Salazar Announces $ For Louisiana Oysters From BP Fund
Written by  // Wednesday, 14 December 2011 12:48 //

salazar1Louisiana Oysters were on the mind of Interior Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today as he commended the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Trustees for proposing an initial set of restoration projects in the Gulf Coast region as part of the agreement with BP to fund $1 billion in early restoration projects.  The first phase of projects – made available for public comment today – is comprised of eight projects in four Gulf Coast states that total more than $57 million and include initiatives to restore oyster beds, marshes, dunes and nearshore reefs.

  “These initial projects demonstrate our determination to hit the ground running when it comes to restoring the Gulf of Mexico after the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon spill,” Secretary Salazar said. “We know that this is just a beginning of what will be an important process to ensure that those responsible for the spill are held fully accountable, and this is a solid start to our restoration efforts.”


Salazar made the comments while touring the P&J oyster company, a family-owned business that has been harvesting oysters in New Orleans’ French Quarter for 130 years.  Salazar noted that one of the two projects proposed for the state of Louisiana is approximately $14 million for an oyster cultch project that involves the placement of oyster cultch onto approximately 850 acres of public oyster seed grounds throughout coastal Louisiana, as well as construction of an oyster hatchery facility that would produce supplemental larvae and seed. 

“By restoring oyster beds, we are ensuring a way of life continues along the Gulf Coast and bolstering the local economy that was hard hit by the Deepwater Horizon spill,” Salazar said.


Today’s announcement builds upon efforts by the Obama Administration’s Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force that is working to develop a comprehensive, long-term strategy to return the health and strength back to the Gulf Coast’s wetlands, beaches, reefs and other habitats, and to address the decline to the region’s natural resources in decades past.


Following the announcement, Salazar met with local community leaders in New Orleans to discuss the challenges and potential solutions for developing the Lafitte Corridor Greenway and Revitalization Project, a proposed pilot site identified under the Urban Waters Federal Partnership.


Additional information on today’s NRDA Trustee announcement is available HERE.  


Governor Bobby Jindal announced today that two “Louisiana Plan” projects are part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Trustee Council’s draft early restoration plan for the Gulf following the BP oil spill.  The plan includes approximately $14.9 million for oyster cultch in six areas of coastal Louisiana and an oyster hatchery enhancement project in Grand Isle. The plan also includes $13.2 million for approximately 104 acres of marsh creation in Barataria Bay associated with the Lake Hermitage restoration project.  The plan released today is not the final step in the process, but means these two projects are one step closer to approval.


In July, Governor Jindal announced the “Louisiana Plan” to start restoring the state’s coastal areas, fisheries and oyster seed grounds from the devastating impact of the BP oil spill. The funding comes from a $1 billion agreement announced in April 2011 for early restoration of damaged natural resources resulting from the oil spill. The “Louisiana Plan” of early restoration projects totals around $530 million. The state expects to receive a large portion of the $1 billion in early restoration funds because Louisiana sustained the brunt of oil spill damage along the Gulf.


Governor Jindal said, “When we announced the 13 projects included in the 'Louisiana Plan' in July, we chose projects that were ready for implementation so that we could begin restoring Louisiana from the damage caused by the BP Spill. These two projects are a good start, but we hope to be announcing more projects that utilize all of the funds that BP has committed to ensure our coast and communities are quickly and fully restored from the spill. 


Background On Projects

Oyster Cultch Project: This project includes two components, including the placement of approximately 850 acres of oyster cultch material throughout specific areas of coastal Louisiana, and the construction of an oyster hatchery facility to produce supplemental larvae and seed. The oyster cultch plants would occur in the following locations:

  • 3-Mile Bay
  • Drum Bay
  • Lake Fortuna
  • South Black Bay
  • Hackberry Bay
  • Sister Lake


The second portion of the project involves constructing a hatchery facility adjacent to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Marine Research Laboratory in Grand Isle in partnership with Louisiana Sea Grant.  The hatchery would help facilitate and expedite success of the cultch placement. The facility is designed to produce one billion eyed larvae per season.


Lake Hermitage Marsh Creation: This project involves the creation of marsh within a footprint known as the “Lake Hermitage Marsh Creation Project” in Barataria Bay developed for and funded through the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act (CWPPRA) Program. Approximately 104 acres of brackish marsh would be created. The primary goals of the project are to restore the eastern Lake Hermitage shoreline to reduce erosion and prevent breaching into the interior marsh, and to re-create marsh in the open water areas south and southeast of Lake Hermitage.


Co-owner of P&J Oyster Company and Governor's Oyster Advisory Committee Member Al Sunseri said, "I am thrilled with the Governor's announcement today for the proposed $14.9 million investment in Louisiana's oyster resources. From the start of the spill, they have heard our concerns and suggestions. These projects prove that the trustees and the Governor are committed to making sure we are here for years to come. We are hopeful that the cultch planting will bring a rejuvenation of the natural oyster reefs, and that the hatchery will help provide stability for future generations."


Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission Member and Co-owner Motivatit Seafood Mike Voisin said, “These projects show that the Governor is committed to rebuilding our coast and our oyster resources in Louisiana. We greatly appreciate his commitment to stay the course on helping the oyster industry recover. They also prove that the trustees see the importance of following through on the hard work it will take to recover from last year's BP oil spill and for that we are grateful.”


Jefferson Parish President John Young said, “Jefferson Parish appreciates the ongoing efforts of the Governor's office and Garret Graves to pursue the funding of projects in coastal Louisiana, where the majority of the BP oil made landfall.  The oyster community, the commercial fishermen, and the recreational activities of the parish provide a livelihood for many in our community and were significantly impacted by the BP oil disaster. They deserve to be among the first projects funded through the NRDA process. We will continue to support efforts to rebuild the shrimp industry in coastal Louisiana, as well. The state has provided a transparent process by which they continue to work with the other states and federal trustees to make these projects happen, and we appreciate their cooperative efforts."


Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said, “The projects proposed today are just beginning of the hard work we must do all along our coast, work that we are ready to do with the funds BP committed and the Governor helped us secure for the injuries of last years' oil spill. We are grateful to see that the Trustees recognize how important it is to focus the early restoration on those areas that were impacted most. Since the spill started, through the response and now into early restoration, the Governor has made sure that the parishes had a seat at the table. We are confident in that these projects will start the process of restoring Louisiana's natural resources.”


Terrebonne Parish President Michael Claudet, “We know recovering from this disaster will be a major undertaking, but Terrebonne Parish is very encouraged by the news of these projects moving forward, as it shows that all parties are trying to make Louisiana and the rest of the Gulf Coast whole again.”


Executive Director for the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana Steven Peyronnin said, “The announcement of these two NRDA projects is welcome news, but it is also a reminder that there are still a large number of proposed projects awaiting approval by BP.  Real progress toward restoring our coast requires a greater sense of urgency by those responsible for the damage.”


Director of Governmental Relations for the National Audubon Society Cynthia Duet said, “Today's release of the NRDA restoration plan by the Gulf states and Federal trustees is a testament to their commitment to timely restoration of our valuable coastal natural resources that support our wildlife, communities and economy.  Thank you all for your hard work.  We'd also like to specifically commend the State of Louisiana for leading the charge in terms of project development and negotiation; we look forward to working closely with you all to vet this first list, and also to assist in development of restoration projects in 2012 with an eye toward quick implementation.”


Director of the Ocean Conservancy’s Fish Conservation and Gulf Restoration program Chris Dorsett said, “This is an important and positive first step.  This kind of investment in early restoration is unprecedented and will begin the process of making good on promises to fully restore the Gulf of Mexico from the impacts of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. Public engagement in the restoration process is essential for success. We applaud the trustees for providing the public opportunities to review and provide input on the first phase of early restoration.”


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