Officials with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) and Louisiana Sea Grant (LSG) celebrated the opening of thenewly constructed Michael C. Voisin Oyster Hatchery on Grand Isle.
Rep. Gordon E. Dove of Houma through legislation named the hatchery after the late Michael C. Voisin of Houma. Voisin, who passed away in 2013, was a respected leader in the oyster industry and served in many leadership roles including, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commissioner and chairman of the Louisiana Oyster Task Force.
Construction on the oyster hatchery, which is adjacent to the LDWF Fisheries Research Lab facilities, began in April 2013. The new elevated and temperature controlledhatchery features state-of the-art re-circulating water system that will enable production of hatchery-raised larvae and spat to occur year- round, significantly increasing the production capacity over previous years.
The facility was funded through the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment Early Restoration Process.
LDWF is responsible for operating and maintaining the new oyster hatchery facility. Through a separate agreement with LDWF, LSG will provide technical direction on production of larvae and spat and training for LDWF staffunder supervision of LSG’s Dr. John Supan.
“Oysters are very important to the history and culture of our state,” said LDWF Secretary Robert Barham. “This oyster hatchery is a very important tool in rehabilitating the state’s valuable oyster resources in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.””
Since 1993, LSG has operated an oyster hatchery on Grand Isle in various locations. In 2005, the hatchery wasdestroyed by Hurricane Katrina and LSG moved its operations to the LDWF Fisheries Research Lab, which allows LDWF and LSG to merge academic research projects and hatchery programs that benefit both the commercial harvesting sector and aid in management of the public seed grounds.
“LSU is proud of the role our scientists play in Louisiana’s world-famous oyster industry, which supplies more than a third of our country’s oysters,” said LSU President F. King Alexander. “This hatchery will provide critical support to a resource that is integral to our state’s culture and identity.”
“Louisiana Sea Grant has a long history of supporting our state’s oyster industry, and an equally long history of working in partnership with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries,” said Robert Twilley, LSG executive director. “With this partnership, we look forward to entering into a new commitment of research and service that benefits our state’s oyster growers and harvesters.”
Currently, LDWF deploys hatchery raised Crassostrea virginica oyster larvae on the public seed grounds throughremote setting spat on-shell and by deploying free swimming larvae. Approximately 13 million spat and 400 million larvae were produced each year, on average, with past operations for use by LDWF in public seed ground rehabilitation projects.
The new hatchery is capable of producing 1 billion Crassostrea virginica oyster larvae annually. Those larvae will be utilized by LDWF for augmentation of six early restoration cultch plants. Any excess diploid larvae will be used for various oyster rehabilitation projects on the public seed grounds.