"Make a difference."
Oysters play an important role in our coastal environment. Oyster reefs provide protection for the shoreline against erosion by waves and storms, habitat for popular sportfish species, and are a natural filtration system for our coastal waters.
While oysters can seem endless in their abundance, this beloved Texas fishery is in a historic decline. Oysters are traditionally commercially harvested from public fishing grounds by dredging, which destroys the sea bottom as it brings up its catch. Reefs can be lost, and so are the benefits they provide. Until recently, Texas was the only U.S. state without an oyster mariculture industry; with the combined work of researchers, industry officials and Texas lawmakers, the Texas Legislature made oyster mariculture legal during the 2019 session. Oyster mariculture is a business that brings in more than $270 million annually and can take pressure off natural reefs and allow them to recover.
HRI is launching its Marine Resources Development lab, which will look at the role oyster mariculture can play in creating a healthier fishery, and the Coastal Conservation and Restoration lab, which will study the role restored oyster reefs can play in creating a more sustainable coastal environment.
HRI features nine research groups spanning scientific, social science, policy and legal disciplines, each with projects specific to their areas of study. Together our researchers collaborate to solve even bigger problems that face the Gulf of Mexico.