Alternative Oyster Culture

Louisiana Alternative Oyster Culture (AOC) Industry

AOC is when oysters are grown in floating cages or in bottom-placed cages attached to pylons. This method allows the cages to be raised and lowered to protect oysters from predators, fouling and the burial effects of disasters like hurricanes. Louisiana Sea Grant has operated an AOC demonstration farm on Grand Isle for more than a decade and began researching alternative oyster culture in the late 1980s.

As estuarine habitat and environmental conditions continue to change through natural and human influences, there is a need to offer and expand economic opportunities for oyster fishers—and AOC helps to fulfill that need. To that end, Louisiana Fisheries Forward, in conjunction with the Louisiana Seafood Future grant program, is putting together a wide variety of resources like education and business tools, equipment and public outreach, to expand and enhance AOC across the coast.

We encourage all our oystermen to get involved in the management of our fishery. Join the Oyster Task Force, or attend their open meetings; sign up for news and alerts from LDWF, LA Sea Grant and other agencies; and attend LFF and other industry workshops. Your input is needed for us all to be successful.

As we continue to add information to this web site, visit the resource links below for more on regulations, product handling, gear and equipment, and responsible farming practices.

To apply for an AOC permit, you must have a commercial oyster harvester license. And before applying for an oyster harvester license, you must complete online oyster harvester training, which will include this video (use the link, you will not get credit watching it here). Oyster harvesters must take this training every three years.

cages for alternative oyster culture on pier with longlines in water behind
Raw oysters in wooden crate

There are complex environmental, economic, and political issues confronting today’s traditional oyster industry. AOC is a part of addressing those issues, but certainly not the sole or primary solution.

Louisiana’s traditional oyster production can average from 12-14 million pounds of oyster meat annually, producing anywhere from 30-40 percent of the United States’ supply. AOC cannot replace this traditional natural fishery in volume or economic impact; but it is an opportunity to help increase the potential for industry diversity.

Latest Oyster News

oyster farm at Sea Grant hatchery

Second Round of Alternative Oyster Culture Grant Applications Open Now

May 6, 2022

The second round of Alternative Oyster Culture (AOC) grant applications will open May 6, 2022; the closing deadline for grow-out and nurseries is June 9 and for parks and hatcheries July 7. Applications can be found at www.laseafoodfuture.com/aoc, as well as a press release announcing the applicants selected in the first…

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two eyed larvae as viewed under microscope

LDWF Begins Online Ordering for Oyster Hatchery Larvae

April 18, 2022

Beginning at 8 a.m. April 19, 2022, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will be opening its online ordering portal to provide the oyster industry with hatchery-reared oyster larvae produced at the Michael C. Voisin Oyster Hatchery. Requests will only be taken via the online ordering portal and…

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