New $3 million oyster hatchery will boost production - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

New $3 million oyster hatchery will boost production

The new hatchery will produce millions of oyster larvae each year. (FOX 8 Photo) The new hatchery will produce millions of oyster larvae each year. (FOX 8 Photo)
GRAND ISLE, LA (WVUE) -

The Louisiana oyster industry is getting a big boost in its efforts to recover from oil spills and hurricanes - and to create a new, premium product at the same time.

On Wednesday the state today officially opened a new $3 million hatchery and research facility on Grand Isle that will produce billions of oysters in the years ahead.

"We're not back to where we were before the spill, but we are gaining ground again," said Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries secretary Robert Barham.

The new hatchery will produce millions of oyster larvae each year.

"This hatchery is a great hurricane recovery tool," said oyster hatchery Director John Supan.

The lab is equipped with all of the building blocks needed to produce oysters. The algae grown there will feed the oyster larvae that become seedlings to replenish beds that are often damaged by storms, fresh water or oil spills.

"The research we're doing here has worldwide ramifications. How to produce them - we're right in the heart and soul of doing this," said LSU president F. King Alexander.

The facility itself is also much more storm resilient. Seed-growing tanks which used to be at sea level are now 19 feet above ground.

"Our brood stocks used to be put in a bay, so whenever a storm would approach it would set us back six weeks. Now that won't happen," Supan said.

The seedlings are being used for special off-bottom cultivation which is producing premium oysters for a restaurant industry that is hungry for them.

"They love them, and now we're way behind,” Supan said. “We need to get more growing."

Many of the off-bottom oysters are now being produced on leases off Grand Isle which were slow to start, but are now taking off.

"It’s going well. They're selling some now," Keller said.

The new, premium oysters are called triploids and are incapable of reproducing. But the oysters can also be used to seed traditional bottom reefs, which are still the lifeblood of a Louisiana seafood industry.

The new hatchery, named after the late Mike Voisin, was built with money given to the state by BP after the oil spill.

Copyright 2015. WVUE all rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly