Miss. continues restoration of oyster reefs damaged by Katrina

Published 7:27 pm Tuesday, August 22, 2006

State biologists will continue restoration of Mississippi’s oyster reefs damaged by Hurricane Katrina by distributing over 8,100 cubic yards of cultch material in the Telegraph Reef area about 6 miles south of the Bay of St. Louis.

Work is planned for Thursday, according to the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources.

Hurricane Katrina damaged or destroyed more than 90 percent of Mississippi’s 12,000 acres of oyster beds.

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“Harvesters and oyster lovers should be able to reap the benefit of these cultch plants in 18 to 24 months when the oysters should reach their three-inch market size,” Steve Breland, a DMR shellfish biologist.

Cultch plants consist of spreading oyster shell or limestone over the water bottom using high-pressure hoses, giving oyster larvae a clean surface on which to attach and grow.

The plants are intended to enhance oyster productivity and increase fishing opportunities in south Mississippi through the continued development of existing reefs and the creation of additional new reefs, Breland said.