The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) completed construction of a 200 acre oyster reef in Caillou Lake (Sister Lake) to increase oyster habitat and fish production. The building process, known as culch planting, is a proven home improvement technique used by LDWF.
This project was funded by Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment (DWH NRDA) regulation funds to repair injuries to oysters as a result of the spill. The Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group has approved $ 26 million for oyster farming projects, including improving oyster recovery using hatcheries, restoring cultured oysters and restoring hatchery oysters.
Since 1917, LDWF has placed over 1.5 million cubic meters of growing material on nearly 30,000 acres with positive results. This most recent Lac Caillou project in 2021 laid about 29,500 cubic meters of crushed limestone at the bottom of the lake to create about 200 acres of man-made oyster reef.
When placed in suitable oyster habitat, tumbling equipment provides a substrate for free-floating oyster larvae to attach and develop, resulting in a mature and productive oyster reef. The potential long-term benefits of increasing the available culture material include increased oyster production and the connectivity, resilience and stability of oyster populations. Healthy, interconnected oyster populations form reefs that provide the hard substrate necessary for oyster larvae to settle, grow and maintain the population. In addition to providing habitat for oysters, these reefs provide habitat for a variety of marine organisms, from small invertebrates to large species of recreational and commercial importance. In addition, oyster reefs ensure structural integrity, improve water quality and potentially reduce coastal erosion.
Lac Caillou was chosen because it has always been one of Louisiana’s most productive oyster production sites. According to the most recent stock assessment, a breech plant (365 acres) built there in 2012 contained about 30 percent of the oyster resources available west of the Mississippi River.
The breech plant will be closed to recreational and commercial oyster harvesting for at least two years to allow for recruitment and growth of oysters. LDWF will monitor the performance of the plant through regular sampling events.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is responsible for managing and protecting Louisiana’s abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.la.gov. To receive LDWF email alerts, register at http://www.wlf.la.gov/signup.