Oyster Resource and Recovery Center

Principal Investigator
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This project is awaiting Bucket 1 RESTORE Act funding

Innovating seafood breeding and production to improve the health of Texas coastal waters, strengthen the seafood industry, and bolster resilience of coastal communities

As a result of catastrophic events such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Hurricane Ike, and seasonal variability in rainfall, stability of the Texas oyster industry is unpredictable. Unlike some species, oysters have little means of avoiding change in their environment. Despite these risks, Texas produced approximately one-fourth of the Gulf oyster harvest in 2014 — a value of $19 million, and a major economic driver for coastal communities. The value of oysters to our state is much more when other benefits they provide are considered. Oyster reefs are the major habitat for sport fish ($2.1 billion in retail sales; 29,000 jobs) and, as such, are essential to Texas coastal tourism. Oysters also perform valuable ecosystem services such as remove nitrogen , stabilize shorelines, and enhance commercial fishing. Due to persistent vulnerability, a strong need exists to ensure the continued economic benefit and services provided by this valuable resource. One means of ensuring availability of oysters from Texas waters is predictable production via managed aquaculture, an activity every coastal state in the U.S., with the exception of Texas, engages in and which represents a $180 million per year industry.

Partnering with Texas A&M AgriLife Research, HRI will operate an Oyster Resource & Recovery Center in Palacios, Texas, with the following specific goals:  1) to provide larvae and spat for oyster farmers for commercial aquaculture along the Texas coast; 2) to partner with academic and research institutions, fisheries agencies, and the commercial industry to restore and develop new critical oyster reef habitat for promotion of environmental health and sustainability of estuaries; 3) to bolster economic resilience of coastal communities and long-term stabilization of oyster stocks; and 4) to ensure responsible stewardship of Gulf Coast resources for future generations via education and outreach.  The partnerships created by this project will support efforts along the Texas coast as well as new and on-going projects across the Gulf. A major mission of this facility will be to produce organisms for local aquaculture and restoration efforts as well as provide redundancy (e.g., maintenance of genetic stocks for other facilities across the Gulf) for others as a result of catastrophic events, as well as educate producers on environmentally sustainable production and harvesting methodologies.

 

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