Louisiana Sens. Mary Landrieu (D) and David Vitter (R), along with the state’s representatives, recently sent a letter to BP President Lamar McKay requesting $15 million to restore critical oyster habitats destroyed by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The state of Louisiana first requested funds for restoration in November 2010, but BP never responded.
Louisiana produces 40 percent of the United States’ domestic oyster supply and is home to more than 1.6 million public, 400,000 private acres of fishing grounds.
“In hopes of mitigating future damages and facilitating the robust recovery of this vital industry, we strongly encourage you to reconsider this $15 million investment opportunity,” the delegation wrote. “Timing will be critical. Unfortunately, due to the direct and indirect impacts of the oil spill, oyster production…continues to trail historic averages.”
And Louisiana isn’t the only place where oyster habitats are suffering.
Over the past few decades, coastal Alabama has lost its marshes, sea grass beds and oyster reef habitats through incompatible development practices, erosion, storm events, and most recently, the impacts of the Gulf oil disaster.
In fact, scientists estimate 10-20 acres of intertidal habitat are lost each year. These challenges make Mobile Bay one of the largest potential areas for outright restoration, replacement and enhancement of lost habitats on the Northern Gulf coast.
Late last month, nearly 550 volunteers from Alabama and beyond donned boots and gloves, and donated their time to do what BP isn’t willing to–kick start a massive oyster restoration effort.
Volunteers from California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Texas, Florida and points in between joined together to place 16,000 bags of oyster shells along the shore – the first step to building 100 miles of oyster reef over the next three to five years in Mobile, AL. The effort was led by the 100-1000: Restore Coastal Alabama partnership.
Image Credit: Flickr - lsgcp