GULFPORT REMOTE SETTING FACILITY
The oyster industry is an integral part of the Mississippi Gulf Coast – its economy, its history and its culture. To increase production and aid in the recovery of the natural reefs along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources operates a small-scale remote setting facility at the Port of Gulfport.
WHAT IS REMOTE SETTING?
Remote setting is a method of oyster seed production resulting in several ‘spat’ (baby oysters) attached to most commonly old oyster shell. The resulting oyster seed is referred to as “spat-on-shell”. Because the small spat is attached to shell, they can be transported and planted on the bottom of our local reefs where they will grow and potentially contribute to future oyster recruitment and harvests.
ITS IMPORTANCE TO THE MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST
Mississippi’s oyster industry has suffered greatly because of several natural and man-made disasters, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the BP Oil Spill in 2010, openings of the Bonnet Carré Spillway. All of these events have contributed to the decline of local wild oyster populations. In 2004, oyster fishermen in Mississippi harvested nearly 500,000 sacks of oysters since then oyster harvest in Mississippi has fallen drastically.
The principal goal of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources in regard to oyster restoration is to rebuild the natural reefs in the Mississippi Sound that were devastated due to the aforementioned disasters. Accomplishing this goal requires many strategies, but a primary focus is the use of the small-scale remote setting facility and the potential development/construction of a large-scale facility to facilitate the restoration and restocking of Mississippi brood oysters and their aid with population recruitment. This project directly assists in increasing the production of the natural oyster reefs along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.