BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The Department of Marine Resources (DMR) is hoping the traditional way of cultivating oysters will bring back one of the area’s favorite seafood menu items.
On Friday, the DMR set up an oyster cultch, where 26-one-acre sites in and around Biloxi Bay are targeted to grow oysters.
“Planting cultch material basically means spraying off cultch material which can be oyster shells, concrete, crushed concrete, or limestone,” said Erik Broussard, DMR Shellfish Bureau Director. “It’s loaded on barges or vessels and then deployed.”
50-cubic yards of it, to be exact, is going in the bay. The idea is that oyster larvae will attach to the shells and grow into seafood delicacies. This is different than the oyster harvesting in cages south of Deer Island.
“This particular area of Biloxi Bay has been very productive.” said Broussard.
To get those shells in the water, the DMR used their oyster boat called the "Conservationist." The vessel was built back in the 1970's and refurbished at a boat lot on Biloxi's Point Cadet.
“It’s specifically designed to manage oysters whether it be harvest, cultivating, and today we’ll be cultch planting.” said Broussard.
Broussard is planting, and hoping for a better harvest. Especially, after the 2019 harmful algae bloom wiped out oyster crops in the south.
Harmful algae bloom contained toxins that severely killed marine life, and affected the environment.
“We had significant mortality and the oysters were very stressed, and we didn’t see a whole lot of spawning potential.” said Broussard.