Today, the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission passed a Notice of Intent (NOI) to add four proposed recreational oyster broodstock reefs to Louisiana Administrative Code (LAC) 76:VII.537, which restricts all oyster harvest on reefs listed under that rule. The Department plans to construct all four reefs using oyster cultch material by summer of this year. The reefs would join the approximately 33 reefs currently listed under the rule. All four proposed reefs would be constructed within 10-acre plots inside Public Oyster Areas in the coastal waters of Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parishes at Petit Pass, Karako Bay, Lake Machias, and Mozambique Point.
These 4 reefs will be approximately 2-acres, but oyster harvest, commercial and recreational, will be prohibited from the entire 10-acre plot. The four 10-acre plots to be included under LAC 76:VII.537 will only ban oyster harvest on 40 of the more than 900,000 acres of public oyster areas located east of the Mississippi River. The oyster harvest prohibition is intended to be permanent.
The objective of the brood reefs is to establish protected oyster reef complexes that can help populate nearby public oyster areas where harvest is not prohibited by rule. Construction costs will be paid through federal Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) funds which are marked for supporting oyster restoration efforts to offset impacts from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. These four reefs will be among the first projects included in the Department’s “Louisiana Oyster Management and Rehabilitation Strategic Plan” to be initiated. A copy of the plan can be viewed here: https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/assets/Resources/Publications/Oyster/Final-Draft—Oyster-Strategic-Plan—12.30.20.pdf .
The reefs are expected to provide finfish habitat and, as such, will be open to finfish anglers.
Written comments relative to the NOI should reach Denise Kinsey no later than 5pm, Thursday, April 1, 2021.
Comments can be mailed to:
Attn: Denise Kinsey
PO Box 98000
Baton Rouge, LA 70898
For more information, contact Carolina Bourque, Oyster Program manager, 337-735-8726 or [email protected]