Governor Tate Reeves announced the U.S. Department of the Treasury approved a RESTORE Act grant award of $7.62 million for the construction of the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Oyster Hatchery and Research Center, located at USM’s Gulf Coast Research Lab (GCRL) at Cedar Point in Ocean Springs.
Written by: WLBT Digital
The grant is administered by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.
“Oyster farming plays a huge role in both the economy and ecology of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. This investment in restoring the oyster population will help boost our state’s economy and reinvigorate the Gulf Coast for years to come,” said Governor Tate Reeves. “This industry has taken serious hits in the past several years. We are truly grateful for President Trump and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin’s support of the University of Southern Mississippi and the Gulf Coast’s efforts to rebuild this vital part of our state’s economy.”
U.S. Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith also shared their sentiments on the importance of the funds.
“The scientists at USM’s Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center have been hard at work restoring the natural bounty of Mississippi’s oyster beds,” Senator Wicker said. “This long-awaited release of RESTORE Act funds will support the oyster hatchery and aquaculture center, which is critical to ensuring the return of a healthy and sustainable oyster population and the expansion of the aquaculture industry along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”
“A healthy ecosystem for cultivating oyster reefs would mean benefits all around, not just for the environment but for the Gulf Coast economy,” Senator Hyde-Smith said. “The GCRL is a wonderful institution that has the expertise to help Mississippi achieve this goal. I’m pleased the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality is a partner in this project.”
The goal of the facility is to enable researchers to produce oysters to restore Mississippi’s historic oyster reefs in the Mississippi Sound, which were damaged by Hurricane Katrina, the BP oil spill, and freshwater inundation from repeated openings of the Bonnet Carré Spillway.