Oyster restoration

Introducing the Gulf Region Oyster Network

Each July, Restore America’s Estuaries and our friends at NOAA Office of Habitat Conservation come together to celebrate Habitat Month. This year’s theme was “Growing Habitat Together” and we couldn’t imagine a better example of togetherness than RAE’s new Gulf Region Oyster Network (GRO). Established through NOAA with funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the GRO is a first of its kind initiative in the region aimed at growing and improving efforts to recycle oyster shells and implement oyster habitat restoration.

Our vision for GRO is to create a strong, diverse network of organizations with skills and experience in oyster shell recycling and reef restoration and provide a learning network that can serve to expand this critical work throughout the Gulf and the US. The total award for the project is $4.9 million.

The Network will operate within three pillars: 1) Inclusive Growth 2) Expand Existing Programs 3) Regional Knowledge Exchange.

Of course, we couldn’t take on a project of this magnitude and importance on our own, so we’ve partnered with five established, highly respected organizations working in the Gulf: Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Galveston Bay Foundation, Tampa Bay Watch, Pensacola and Perdido Bays Estuary Program, and the Alabama Coastal Foundation.

The GRO will consist of four primary initiatives:

  • Oyster Shell Recycling and Restoration
  • Meaningful Engagement
  • Learning Exchange
  • Impact Monitoring

Additionally, RAE will partner with Minorities in Aquaculture to help facilitate the Network and engage with communities in the Gulf to expand oyster operations and restoration. This peer-to-peer learning exchange will include multiple in-person and virtual training opportunities over the next few years.

As part of our Habitat Month celebration, we also hosted a webinar featuring NOAA and two or our project partners to formally introduce the program and take questions from members of our community. You can watch the full recording below.

We would also like to extend a special thank you to Representative Garret Graves (LA-06) for his leadership and support of this proposal as well as the following Members of Congress who joined him.

  • Vern Buchanan (FL-16)
  • Clay Higgins (LA-03)
  • Brian Babin (TX-36)
  • Steven Palazzo (MS-04)
  • Troy Carter (LA-02)
  • Jerry Carl (AL-01)
  • Kathy Castor (FL-14)
  • Neal Dunn (FL-02)
  • Byron Donalds (FL-19)

This bipartisan support is just another example of how critical this restoration work is for communities, businesses, and citizens in the Gulf of Mexico.

We’d also like to thank NOAA for their confidence in RAE and our partners in carrying out this project and for joining us on the Habitat Month Webinar. For more information on the Gulf Region Oyster Network, join our newsletter mailing list by clicking the button below and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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