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 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 baby oysters (spat) attached to old oyster shell. The resulting oyster seed is referred to as “spat-on-shell”. Because the small spat are attached to shell, they can be moved and planted on the bottom at small sizes, soon after setting and do not require a nursery phase or any further attention.
ITS IMPORTANCE TO THE MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST
Mississippi’s oyster industry has suffered greatly because of several natural and man-made disasters since 2005, including Hurricane Katrina, the BP Oil Spill and three separate openings of the Bonnet Carre Spillway (2008, 2011 and 2016). In contrast to 2004’s harvest (500,000 sacks of oysters), oyster fisherman felt the ramifications of these disasters with a harvest of 66 sacks in 2012 and 40,000 sacks in 2016.
In 2015, Governor Bryant issued an Executive Order to create the Governors Oyster Restoration and Resiliency Council, whose objective was to analyze environmental and economic factors on the oyster resources. While the Oyster Council identified several goals, the primary goal would be to increase oyster reef productivity in the Mississippi Sound and produce one million sacks of oysters annually by 2025. Accomplishing this goal requires many strategies, but the primary focus is the Remote Setting Facility.