Out-of-work oystermen will be employed in an effort to build two 2,500-foot oyster reefs in Mobile County. The Mobile Press-Register reported early this month that The Nature Conservancy has received a $2.9 million grant from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to build the reefs, which will stretch nearly a mile.
“These reefs will absorb the impact of wave energy from storms and boat activity,” a Nature Conservancy press release says, “thereby protecting the shoreline from erosion while enhancing habitat for fish, birds and invertebrates.”
Alabama’s oyster populations have been affected by the oyster drill, Urosalpinx cinerea, a snail which bores into shellfish and eats the oyster inside. Alabama’s public oyster reefs have been closed to harvest since March, in the hope that, given time, Alabama’s shellfish can recover enough to support a harvest.
The Nature Conservancy is collaborating with Dauphin Island Sea Labs and Alabama’s State Lands Division on the reef project. The project is expected to create 35-40 jobs, Katherine Sayre reported in the Press-Register.
The funding for the reefs is part of more than $150 million in coastal restoration stimulus money appropriated to NOAA for coastal restoration in the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act. NOAA received more than 800 restoration project proposals. The proposals asked for more than $3 billion.