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Oyster harvesters hope $100k grant will help industry

Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 2:01 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The University of Southern Mississippi will be getting a $100,000 grant to help put the shellfish industry back on its feet after shutdowns from the pandemic.

The money, from The Nature Conservancy, will be put toward establishing the Gulf Coast Shellfish Steering Committee, which will advocate for policies to restore oyster populations in the Gulf of Mexico.

When Mike Moore isn’t entertaining guests on the Biloxi Shrimping Tour, he’s out at his off-bottom oyster farm south of Deer Island.

“It’s a labor-intensive business, it’s risky, but one thing as an aquaculture oyster community, all these guys work together,” Moore said. “It’s great seeing the powers that be trying to come up with something that kind of flows and works together.”

Some of that grant also goes toward Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United.

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure those oyster farmers are successful,” said Ryan Bradley. “We want to make sure they have all the tools they need. Unfortunately, our wild oyster reefs have been diminished the last several years, and we’re still in rebuilding and recovery mode with our wild reefs. We’re fortunate to have these off-bottom oyster farms where’s it’s in the cages.”

Bradley added that they plan to use their portion of funding to set up oyster farming awareness and opportunity seminars in all three coastal counties.

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