The panel overseeing the use of BP oil spill damage money agreed last week to spend $25.6 million on three projects aimed at increasing oyster production in state coastal waters and $3.1 million to underwrite the Audubon Nature Institute’s participation in the national Marine Mammal Stranding Network.
The Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group, or TIG, which includes representatives of five state agencies and four federal agencies, decides how to spend Louisiana’s $5 billion share of the $8.1 billion BP set aside for natural resource restoration and compensation.
The three oyster-production projects aim to restore public oyster grounds damaged either directly by the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill — and its cleanup, which included the use of dispersants — or by the state’s use of freshwater diversions to attempt to block spilled oil from entering wetlands along the coast.
Two of the projects are aimed at building new or restoring old oyster beds.
One project would build new “brood reefs” at a number of locations east of the Mississippi River, including in Lake Machais, Mozambique Point, Petit Pass and Bay Boudreaux, and later in other areas to create spawning stock for nearby public oyster seed grounds, for $9.7 million.
Each of the reefs would be built by piling rock and shells about 4 feet above the water bottom in 10-acre areas upstream of existing oyster reefs. These new reefs, which will take about two years to build, would be closed to harvest, but near enough to the public harvest areas to promote habitat connectivity.