In Baton Rouge, Louisiana the process of oyster reef restoration is extremely important. Oyster reef restoration is the process of restoring and rebuilding oyster reefs. Due to environmental change and factors such as water pollution, over harvesting, and harmful fishing techniques the global population of oysters has been on the decline. In coastal areas such as Baton Rouge, oyster farming is an important part of daily life and industry.
During the first stages of an oyster’s life cycle, the oyster attaches to a hard surface area such as prop roots, natural rocks, and dock pilings. Often a large number of oysters will join together on these hard surfaces to form an oyster reef, also known as an oyster bed or oyster mat. Once the oysters are attached and grounded to a hard surface they will remain there for the rest of their lives.
A majority of known oyster species have greatly declined within the last century and it is estimated that more than 85% of oyster reefs have disappeared. Oysters have the most threatened marine habitat in the world, and because of this many oyster restoration projects have been put into place all throughout the US to help revitalize and restore their populations. These oyster restoration projects work to develop a long-term strategy of sustained productivity for oyster reefs and to restore the role they play in nearby reef habitats.
When it comes to restoring the oyster reefs the first step is to determine a location for potential and future reefs. The location is determined by surveys that measure the waters quality and salinity levels, previous oyster reefs, tidal range, oxygen concentration, algae concentration, the prevalence of predators, the prevalence of diseases, and how secure the location is. Once they find the perfect location the next step is to introduce used oyster and clam shells and return them to the water.
Galveston Bay Foundation
When it comes to collecting these used oyster and clam shells, there are a few organizations in the Gulf who have gone all-in on the process and deserve to be recognized. The Galveston Bay Foundation is one of those wonderful organizations. The Galveston Bay Foundation is a non-profit organization striving to ensure that the Galveston Bay remains a beautiful and productive place for generations to come. GBF is comprised of many different advocacy programs, conservation programs, education programs, or research programs.
Oyster reefs are a vital aspect in maintaining the ecosystem surrounding the Galveston Bay. The reefs provide an ideal habitat for bottom-dwelling fish which in turn attract the larger game fish. The oysters also act as a natural filtration system by filtering silts and other contaminants from the water. The larger the oyster population in a specific location, the healthier the water will be because a single oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day which improves the water quality and clarity.
In 2011, the Galveston Bay Foundation partnered with Tommy’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar to begin recycling the used oyster shells in order to rebuild oyster reefs in Galveston Bay. This program promotes sustainable, native oyster populations that clean filter the water in the bay and provides a habitat for the local fish. Since the program first launched, they have reclaimed over 250 tons of oyster shell from Tommy’s Restaurant and 7 other local restaurants. If it weren’t for this program those oyster shells would have gone to a nearby landfill.
Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation
Another organization dedicated to preserving the water quality near Baton Rouge is the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation. LPBF is a non-profit organization working in partnership with people from all throughout the community to reclaim the basin for future generations. Through their restoration activities, advocacy, education, applied scientific research, and citizen action, they have been able to protect the basin and all it does for the community.
Chef John Folse Culinary Institute
The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute in Thibodaux, LA is another great organization making an effort to recycle oyster shells. The students at the institute are learning how to preserve the used oyster shells so they can be recycled and used to repopulate the oyster reefs in the area. Approximately one-third of the nation’s oysters come from Louisiana, but an estimated 60 percent of the oyster shells harvested from the state’s coastal waters are never returned. The institute is hoping that through their projects, they will be able to return oyster shells back to their home and rebuild the local oyster reefs.
Not only in Baton Rouge but in other communities along the coast of Louisiana, oyster reefs are extremely important in the quality and clarity of the water. Through the efforts of the Galveston Bay Foundation, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, and the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, the oyster reefs in the greater Baton Rouge area should soon be restored to their maximum potential.
Here at Budget Dumpster, we are in the waste removal industry and we love to promote businesses and organizations committed to sustainable waste removal such as this foundations. If there is a business or organization you think we should have mentioned, feel free to leave us a comment.