Yamaha Rightwaters, Coastal Conservation Association and Harte Research Institute launch new initiative
Yamaha Rightwaters recently partnered with the Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) to launch a new conservation project designed to assess the role of oyster reefs in carbon capture and storage in Saint-Charles Bay in the Gulf. from Mexico. The ultimate goal then is to potentially expand the program to a wider reach.
“By reducing carbon dioxide through projects like this, we can reduce ocean acidification,” said John O’Keefe, Senior Specialist, Government Relations, Yamaha US Marine Business Unit. “Yamaha Rightwaters promotes sustainability, conservation and research in the United States and around the world. The Harte Research Institute Oyster Study is the perfect example of the meaningful research projects we seek to support.
On May 17, 25 volunteers representing Yamaha Rightwaters, CCA and the Harte Research Institute gathered at Goose Island State Park to place approximately 3,500 pounds of recycled oyster shells back into St. Charles Bay to help restore degraded oyster habitat. The Harte Research Institute is currently studying the viability and effectiveness of “recycling” oyster shells typically discarded or sold by area restaurants to rebuild or restore oyster reefs. These reefs make it easier for oyster larvae to find suitable places to attach and grow. As the group hand-filled dozens of biodegradable cellulose bags with shells and placed them in shallow water, a large barge with a backhoe dumped tons of salvaged oyster shells into deeper water, completing thus the shallow water restoration effort.
The project aims at a current challenge. According to The Nature Conservancy, at least 50% of the original oyster reefs along the Gulf Coast have disappeared, threatened by overexploitation, hurricanes, drought and flooding over the past decade. According to NOAA Fisheries, the Gulf Coast produces nearly 50% of the nation’s $250 million oyster industry. Additionally, oysters contribute approximately $50 million to the Texas economy each year.
“Once reefs are established, they provide valuable habitat for fish, shrimp and crabs, and oysters,” said Dr Jennifer Pollack, chair of coastal conservation and restoration at the Research Institute. Hart. “Oyster reefs also protect shorelines from erosion as they form natural, living breakwaters. We also learn about the role oysters play in capturing and storing carbon from the atmosphere.
Dr Pollack went on to say that oysters also improve overall water quality through their filter feeding activities, and they create habitat that increases fish production and supports recreational angling. .
The National Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) joins Yamaha Rightwaters as a financial sponsor of the oyster study. Founded in 1977, the CCA champions marine conservation.
“CCA has been involved in a number of projects, but it is where some of the most important science activities for anglers in Texas and across the country are currently taking place,” said CCA President Pat Murray. “First, this project builds oyster reefs, essential for the marine ecosystem, but it also establishes areas where science will quantify the carbon sequestration value of oysters. Among the many challenges we face today, reducing carbon dioxide is clearly a priority for a better future for our nation and the world.