BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Today, Gov. Tate Reeves announced that the U.S. Department of the Treasury approved a $7.6 million grant for the the development of the University of Southern Mississippi Oyster Hatchery and Research Center, located at USM’s Gulf Coast Research Lab at Cedar Point in Ocean Springs.
The grant will be provided by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. In addition to the grant, the university will give $1.2 million in state funding for facility construction costs and use the RESTORE Act’s $4 million for the installation of the aquaculture equipment.
The center will help the state’s oyster restoration process by producing oyster larvae and conducting research.
“It has become increasingly clear over the past several years that the decline in oyster production and harvesting is a problem for both the economy and the ecosystem of the Gulf Coast,” said Chris Wells, MDEQ Interim Executive Director. “This new hatchery, along with the implementation of other restoration projects, will be a key part of improving Mississippi’s oyster population.”
Though, the final designs haven’t been submitted to the U.S Department of the Treasury, the draft designs include hatchery and oyster larvae production space, algae cultivation space, a laboratory, and support office space.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to be at the foundation of applied research and development to benefit the resources of Mississippi,” said Kelly Lucas, Interim Associate Vice President for Research, Coastal Operations and Director of the Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center. “This work benefits the Coast economy and ecology by putting oysters back into the Gulf ecosystem, improving water quality, replenishing habitat, stabilizing shorelines and providing delicious oysters for the seafood industry.”
More information about Mississippi’s restoration efforts can be found at restore.ms.