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More Secure Mooring Systems for Alternative Oyster Culture Researched

Photo: AOC Demonstration FarmDespite deploying both recommended and mandated mooring methods, 2020’s Hurricane Zeta caused extensive damage at some Louisiana alternative oyster culture (AOC)  operations, resulting in lost infrastructure and crops.

AOC is when oysters are grown in floating cages or in bottom-placed cages attached to pylons. This method allows the cages to be raised and lowered to protect oysters from predators, fouling, and ideally the effects of hazards like hurricanes.

A $75,000 research project initiated in January – funded by the National Sea Grant College Program – hopes to determine why some AOC moorings at Grand Isle failed and recommend possible solutions to prevent the problem from happening again. Navid Jafari, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Louisiana State University (LSU), Brian Callam, director of the Louisiana Sea Grant (LSG) Oyster Lab and Voisin Oyster Hatchery on Grand Isle, and Rusty Gaudé, LSG and LSU AgCenter Marine Extension agent, make up the research team. Mississippi-Alabama, Texas and Florida Sea Grant personnel also are planned participants in the project.

The team already has met with Grand Isle oyster growers to learn more about the mooring systems used and how they were installed. They’re also looking at the geology of the area and the variability of the soil properties at different water depths.

Field testing of possible mooring solutions will take place through early 2022, with recommendations to growers available by the 2022 hurricane season. Monitoring of the test mooring systems, however, will continue through December 2022.