The third round of Alternative Oyster Culture (AOC) grants, totaling $470,000, have been announced.
Six grow-out farm grants were awarded to:
- Larry (Terrell) Boudin
- Kirk Daigle
- Hubern Ray Doxey, Jr
- Mervin B. Mallet
- Ryan Mallory
- Anthony Theriot
Two additional AOC parks also received funding:
- Southern Belle AOC Park, located south of LA-1 between Port Fourchon and Grand Isle.
- Bahía De Los Sueños AOC Park, located in the Biloxi Marsh of St. Bernard Parish.
Funding for the grant program, which is administered by Louisiana Sea Grant and awarded by the Iberia Development Foundation (IDF), comes from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA).
This third round of competitive funding was open to all Louisiana licensed oyster fishers. Award amounts were $45,000 per grow-out farm and $100,000 per park. The grow-out farm funding was for farms within the newly established Cameron Aquaculture Park located in the southern part of Lake Calcasieu in Cameron Parish and administered by the Cameron Port, Harbor and Terminal Authority. Solicitation for the park grants was announced in the prior second round of funding and selected at that time, but finalization of their contracts did not occur until now. The Southern Belle Park will be administered by Grand Isle Sea Farms, a private company. The Bahía De Los Sueños Park (which translates to Bay of Dreams in Isleños Spanish) will be administered by Two C’s Enterprises Inc., a private company using water bottoms owned by the Meraux Foundation of St. Bernard Parish.
“It is exciting to see our local oystermen having the opportunity to participate in the AOC Program here in Cameron,” said Kim Montie, executive director of Cameron Parish Port, Harbor and Terminal District. “This gives them an opportunity to supplement their traditional oystering income. The grant will provide these fishermen a “hand up” in getting started in the alternative oyster culture business. I am eager to watch this endeavor grow with each of their successes.”
Grant recipients were chosen by an independent selection committee made up of impartial industry experts, who evaluated each on a competitive scale based on five key elements and their interview. The committee reviewed the applicants’ personal qualifications and experience, the AOC site location as it influences the biological and physiological needs of the oyster and the ability to work and harvest without influences of public health concerns. Additionally, the committee was able to evaluate an applicant’s personal thoughts on what AOC means to them and how prepared they are to start a business, and any outside financial efforts they may be pursuing to bolster their business through grants.
Over a three-year period, from 2020 to 2023, $1.8 million in grants will be available to AOC operators to acquire equipment and supplies to enhance existing businesses or establish new AOC businesses. That includes AOC seed nurseries and grow-out facilities, hatcheries and areas legally designated as AOC Management Units (parks) that contain multiple farms in one location. Grant recipients are reimbursed for their purchases, up to the total amount of his or her grant.
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.
“This is a great opportunity for local fishermen to expand their seafood production to include cage culture-grown oysters,” said Kevin Savoie, marine extension agent with Louisiana Sea Grant and the LSU AgCenter. “The alternative oyster culture produces a much cleaner, uniform sized oyster which fits into the half-shell market, making it a specialty product.”
Visit www.laseafoodfuture.com/aoc to stay informed about further grant opportunities.
The Iberia Development Foundation (IDF) was founded in 2011 as a 501c3 non-profit foundation to perform community and economic development activities within Iberia Parish. They provide assistance to businesses and individuals to develop and enhance best business practices, as well as offer programs and assistance pertaining to disaster preparedness and recovery.
Since its establishment in 1968, Louisiana Sea Grant (www.laseagrant.org) has worked to promote stewardship of the state’s coastal resources through a combination of research, education and outreach programs critical to the cultural, economic and environmental health of Louisiana’s coastal zone. Louisiana Sea Grant, based at LSU, is part of the National Sea Grant College Program, a network of 34 university-based programs in each of the U.S. coastal and Great Lakes states and Puerto Rico.