Louisiana Officials Highlight Oyster Industry Concerns, Announce Additional Funding for Restoration Project

$2 million announced for cultch plant, industry
leaders focus on frustrations with claims process

April 15, 2011 – Officials with the Coastal Protection and
Restoration Authority, and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and
Fisheries held a press conference today with leaders from the
oyster industry to highlight BP’s failure to follow through on
emergency restoration work to help the industry recover from the
Deepwater Horizon oil spill that began nearly one year ago. LDWF
Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina announced an additional $2
million in funding for a cultch plant on public seed grounds; that
announcement brings the total state funds committed to emergency
restoration projects for the oyster industry to $4 million.

“Louisiana’s coastal area provides vital nursery grounds for
more than 90 percent of Gulf species and the health of the Gulf as
a whole is dependent on Louisiana’s marshes and estuaries,” said
Garret Graves, chairman of the CPRA. “The impact to our citizen’s
way of life has been dramatic, leaving the good people of our
oyster industry hurting after generations of harvesting this
incredible resource.”

“While BP is busy spending millions on advertising to prove that
they are following through on their promise to make the oyster
industry and all of our coastal fisheries whole, they have
neglected to follow through on numerous projects that could have
helped our oyster men and women get back to work,” said Pausina.
“While we still plan to press BP to fund $15 million for
improvements to oyster grounds, including additional cultch plants
and innovative farming techniques, we have been shaking out the
couches at our agency looking for funds to help ensure a healthy
spat set. The $2 million we are announcing today, along with an
early commitment for $2 million, is a small step in the right
direction. We fully intended to seek reimbursement for the total $4
million. BP is still the responsible party, and it is time they
starting acting like it.”

“It is imperative that we begin aggressively rehabilitating
Louisiana’s oyster resources so that the oyster community is able
to return to normal operations sooner rather than later,” said Mike
Voisin, owner of Motivatit Seafood and member of the Governor’s
Oyster Advisory Committee.

“I am angry that BP has not followed through with their
commitment to reseed the public oyster grounds and that the Gulf
Coast Claims Facility has failed to compensate fairly the oystermen
that were hurt by the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster,” Al Sunseri,
owner of P&J Oysters and member of the Governor’s Oyster
Advisory Committee.

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the Coastal
Protection and Restoration Authority are among the natural resource
trustees charged with assessing and ensuring that BP restores the
natural resources of the State of Louisiana. For more information,
visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov on Facebook at
www.facebook.com/ldwffb or follow us on Twitter @LDWF.


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