Louisiana Oyster Resource Strategic Plan Randy Pausina | Governor’s Oyster Advisory Committee| Nov. 29 Mission Statement The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Office of Fisheries is charged with the protection, conservation and replenishment of Louisiana’s renewable, aquatic natural resources, including Louisiana oysters. This crucial task has never been as important as it is today, in the wake of both natural and man-made disasters Louisiana’s coast has endured in the past seven years. LDWF strives continuously to be a leading source of information for the seafood industry and on the cutting edge of the latest technologies and industry concepts. Vision The goal of this plan is to provide a clear path to recovery for Louisiana’s oyster resource, ensuring its future for generations to come. To date, the state of Louisiana has dedicated more than $18 million in restoration dollars to this plan. Objective #1 – Ensure Oyster Resource is Maintained at Current or Higher Level Objective #1 Strategies • Develop innovative techniques of oyster harvesting and development. • Maintain and further explore current efforts to augment natural spat set • Maintain and further explore alternative cultivation methods. Objective #1 Action Plan • • • • Oversee the construction of the new state-of-the-art Oyster Hatchery Research Facility on Grand Isle, to further develop past and current concepts, as well as cultivate new methods to help advance the industry. Establish Oyster Hatchery as hub of oyster research and direct additional dollars to fund university researchers. Carry out a Remote Setting Program that will utilize Louisiana’s oyster industry with bedding and seeding activities. Annually identify and direct remote-setting or pre-set cultch material to areas with low natural spat Objective #1 Action Plan (cont.) • • • Continue to research less expensive, alternative cultch materials such as concrete (run-off), fly ash, gypsum and bentonite with the goal to allow for more economical cultch plants. Develop an off-bottom cultivation program in the coming year, as directed by Act 293 of the 2012 Louisiana Legislature, aimed at creating an unconventional method of oyster production with the goal to help ensure the stability of the oyster industry and increase production levels . Seek input from industry members to further enhance efficiency of cultch plants currently in place and pursue additional locations for future sites. Objective #2 - Enhance state’s oyster resources Objective #2 Strategy • Enhance state’s monitoring initiatives – Historically, the state’s oyster monitoring efforts have focused on Public Oyster Seed grounds only, which prohibited the state from seeing the entire picture. Capturing more information will allow the state to better recover from future man-made and natural events, such as oil spills, hurricanes, freshwater diversions or coastal restoration activities. Objective #2 Action Plan • • Expand current biological monitoring – LDWF plans to continue their already expansive biological monitoring, and expand to a basin-wide approach. The expansion of biological monitoring will also include private leases, totaling 400,000 acres and all of the state’s waterbottoms, to aid biologists in further understanding Louisiana’s dynamic and fragile ecosystem. Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) – continue implementation of and maintain funds for the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) Pilot Program, which requires oyster vessels fishing on the public seed grounds to have a LDWF-provided VMS. Objective #3: Increase Oyster Acreage Objective #3 Strategy • Reevaluate Public Seed Grounds – LDWF continues to investigate potential development opportunities and reallocation of public oyster seed grounds. • Allow private lease holders the ability to expand and diversify holdings. Objective #3 Action Plan • • • Properly classify current public seed grounds viability, through sidescan sonar to assess bottom type and industry input. Evaluate new oyster lease areas within some waters currently managed as Public Seed Grounds. Create oyster moratorium lifting plan through a phased approach. The first step being galvanizing the vision of the industry through outreach to key user groups and the second step being the creation of legislation. Objective #4: Educate industry on best business practices and latest industry standards Objective #4 Strategy • Professionalism of the Industry - create a better-informed and more efficient commercial fishing industry. The intent of this effort by LDWF is to protect the reputation of our commercial seafood industry: an industry of culture and heritage. Once in place, this program will provide ongoing education opportunities for fishermen and industry participants to receive the most relevant and up-to date information as it pertains to their industry. Objective #4 Action Plan • Create curriculum and course content that will serve as the basis for future, required training programs. • Develop a training video and brochure series that will highlight the requirements for being an oyster harvester and oyster dock owner. Objective #5: Enhance product differentiation and increase consumer demand Objective #5 Strategies • Complete industry-wide origin certification – the Louisiana Certified Seafood program, a program that creates one, single, unified brand the promotes Louisiana seafood and will increase consumer confidence on the origin of their seafood. Objective #5 Strategies (cont.) • Generate sustainability certified oyster product by creating a thirdparty, independent seafood sustainability certification program. • Implement traceability program through Gulf Seafood Trace, for seafood processors in the Gulf States, which, will allow our seafood to be traced from boat to plate in an electronic database. • Develop, an oyster traceability pilot study to determine how the latest technology (i.e. RFID tags and temperature monitoring devices) can be used to monitor FDA’s time/temperature requirements and assist the oyster seafood industry with electronic record keeping. Objective #5 Action Plan • • • Assist Audubon Nature Institute in the development of a nationally recognized, seafood sustainability certification program for Gulf Coast fisheries. Promote the Louisiana Seafood Certification Program to the seafood community, restaurants, and retailers to increase participation and prominence of this brand. Participants will be featured at Certified.LouisianaSeafood.com. Review results of the Oyster Pilot Traceability program to gauge effectiveness of technology at monitoring time/temperature requirements as specified by the ISSC and FDA. Make recommendations accordingly. Objective #5 Action Plan (cont.) • Develop a Gulf Coast Seafood Watch website (modeled after the NOAA FishWatch site) that provides information about Gulf seafood at the state-level on a species by species basis. With easy to understand facts about Gulf seafood at their fingertips, consumers and buyers alike can access credible, science-based information resources to make wellinformed decisions about the sustainability of Gulf seafood. Questions?