New Cameron Alternative Oyster Culture Park under Development, Now Accepting Grow-out Farm Applicants
The Cameron Parish Port, Harbor and Terminal District has been selected for an Alternative Oyster Culture (AOC) grant in the amount of $100,000 to establish a new, 48-acre oyster Park at the southern end of Calcasieu Lake. The Port Commission recently approved the establishment of said Park and encourages potential AOC farmers interested in leasing a farm to apply for a grow-out grant.
Grants eligible for the Cameron Park are for grow-out farms, with a maximum award amount of $45,000.
Applications may be obtained at www.laseafoodfuture.com/aoc, the Port office at 180 Henry St. in Cameron or AgCenter office at 10098 Gulf Hwy. in Lake Charles, and should be submitted by Sept. 30, 2022.
“This is an exciting economic opportunity for Cameron Parish,” said Kim Montie, executive director of the Cameron Parish Port, Harbor and Terminal District. “Though we have some big steps to take before the Park is fully permitted and operational, we wanted to begin the application process so that farmers who meet the requirements could take advantage of available AOC grant funds.”
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 the burial effects of disasters like hurricanes. The goal of the grant program is to begin expanding AOC operations across the state. That includes establishing AOC seed nurseries and grow-out facilities, hatcheries and areas legally designated as AOC Management Units (parks) that contain multiple farms in one location.
“Since they are usually harvested at a smaller size, oysters grown in AOC systems are particularly attractive to the half shell market,” stated Kevin Savoie, Louisiana Sea Grant and LSU AgCenter Fisheries Agent for Cameron. “They are uniform in size and shape and can expand the market beyond traditional, local oysters, which typically go to shucking plants due to their large size.”
Funding for the grant program, which is administered by Louisiana Sea Grant and awarded by the Iberia Development Foundation (IDF), comes from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA).
Over the life of the three-year program, $1.8 million in grants will be available to AOC operators to acquire equipment and supplies to enhance existing businesses or establish new AOC businesses. Grant recipients are reimbursed – after submitting receipts, invoices and other documentation – for their purchases, up to the total amount of his or her grant
Applicants are required to meet several eligibility requirements, such as possessing a Louisiana oyster harvester license and commercial fishing license, be a resident of the state, and not have been convicted of a Class 4 or greater oyster-related violation within the last three years. Grant recipients also will have to develop their businesses according to an established timeline, periodically report on how the grant contract is being fulfilled in a timely fashion and demonstrate that a marketable oyster product is being grown and cultivated.
This is a competitive grant award process, and once the first round of applications closes on Sept. 30, each applicant will be notified of the timeline for application review by the selection committee, notice of approval or rejection and contract signing. Farming activities may begin once the Park is fully operational,