Alabama volunteers grow oysters to replant reef habitat
With an estimated 80-percent loss in global oyster reefs, restoration programs are a vital piece to the recovery program for northern Gulf Coast oyster habitats. The Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program in Alabama is a volunteer-based project focusing on education and restoration of oyster reef habitat in Mobile Bay and the Mississippi Sound. The 2016 season brought the total program restocking potential to 36.5 acres since its inception. Its success spawned a secondary program in Little Lagoon (AL) for the 2017 season.
The Mobile Bay 2016 seasons included 90 volunteers at 45 sites. The volunteers grew 58,500 advanced stocker sized oysters (mean height of 53.2 mm) for replanting degraded reef sites in Mobile Bay. Oysters were grown from private piers from early July through November generating an economic and ecological impact upon planting in November 2016.
The oysters produced by Alabama oyster gardeners in 2016 were replanted on designated reef sites in partnership with the Alabama Department of Marine Resources. The volume of oysters grown was sufficient for restoration of 2.89 acres at a density of 5 advanced stocker (spawning) adults per square meter. This acreage has a value of $55,000 as extrapolated from Kroeger (2012) for TNC.
90 volunteers in Alabama produced enough oysters to replant 2.89 acres of oyster reef habitat in Mobile Bay. (2016)