News

Gulf Shellfish Initiative assembles stakeholder input to inform goals

By: Beth Walton / Published: Mar 29,  2018

The Gulf of Mexico Shellfish Initiative (GoMexSI) team met with several stakeholders groups and stakeholder group representatives last year to discuss the Gulf of Mexico Shellfish Initiative. 

We’re currently assembling all the stakeholder input from these 10 meetings in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Once the input is assembled, we can move forward with setting region-wide goals and identifying specific objectives to achieve the broad goals within each state.

Unlike other state shellfish initiatives around the country, GoMexSI is the first regional effort in the U.S.! This creates a unique opportunity to gain national attention to our shellfish resources and the people that depend on them. 

Oystermen tong for oysters in Alabama.
Oystermen tong for oysters in Alabama.

For many years, various stakeholder groups in each of the Gulf states have been discussing ways to increase shellfish abundance and resources, but often with a focus on one component: the public fisheries, restoration for environmental benefits or aquaculture. 

The Gulf of Mexico Shellfish Initiative is an ambitious effort to tackle this from all these different perspectives (restoration, traditional fisheries and aquaculture) across the region. 

Off-bottom oyster farming is a growing industry in coastal Alabama. Photo by Murder Point Oyster Co.
Off-bottom oyster farming is a growing industry in coastal Alabama. Photo by Murder Point Oyster Co.

We will be seeking endorsements from each state and will seek to establish advisory committees in each one. Working with these advisory groups, state agencies and others, we will help to identify next steps for early implementation of GoMexSI objectives on a state-by-state basis. 

We will continue to encourage partnerships between stakeholder groups from across the region to maximize efforts. GoMexSI efforts will help strengthen future partnerships between groups and provide potential leverage for funding to achieve goals.

Spat on shell is used for enhancement, restoration and aquaculture purposes. Photo by Bill Walton
Spat on shell is used for enhancement, restoration and aquaculture purposes. Photo by Bill Walton

If you would still like to offer input on increasing shellfish abundance and resources in the Gulf of Mexico, please do so at this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GoMexSI.

For more information on GoMexSI, please email me at bethany.walton@usm.edu

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