St. Bernard hopes artificial oyster reef will protect shoreline
Don Ames Reporting
St. Bernard Parish President, David Peralta, is hoping funding will come through to complete a shoreline protection project and help restore the marshland.
"We have some funding," says Peralta. "We also hope that we'll recieve a significant amount of funding through the Restore Act...and, hopefully, through some litigation that we have against BP."
The project involves a system of interlocking circles made of marine-grade cement and oyster shells to serve as a base for young oysters to land and start building their shells.
"You use the oysters shells. You build these oyster reefs, literally in these long, basket-type things and it allows sediment to form behind it."
The goal is for the structure to be built upon by generations of oysters, to create more natural reefs over time.
"So, you put it out, somewhat out from the existing coastline. But it builds sediment and coastline behind it," Peralta says. "And then, you still have the value of the oysters, plus you get a restoration of the marshland."
The structures will be placed about 10 feet from the shoreline. Not only can these reefs help protect shorelines from eroding because of wave energy, but they also can serve as habitat for numerous other types of marine life.
Peralta says the structures will be strategically placed..."in certain areas where we know we're going to have good water movement and we'll have a regeneration of that oyster stock. But, we're hoping it would be extended as far east as Plaquemines and across St. Bernard all the way to Breton Sound, toward Mississippi."
He says the plan is not for a continuous line of reef, so recreational boats and fishing vessels would be able to pass through.
The project is a partnership of business, the state and a nonprofit conservation organization.
It's a continuation of other oyster reef projects the Nature Conservancy has built along the coast, including in St. Bernard Parish, Grand Isle and Vermilion Bay.