LAKE CHARLES, La. (AP) - Concrete pilings are being turned into an artificial oyster reef in Calcasieu Lake, where coastal erosion and changes made by people have made the area less welcoming to oysters and other marine life.
Coastal Conservation Association habitat committee chairman John Walter says that once all the pilings are all in parallel rows, crushed concrete will be added. The work will go into the coming week, he told the American Press (https://bit.ly/2t4prmV).
Walter said the rows of pilings will provide shelter from predators and create a strong current to bring food to the stationary bivalves.
“It’s going to be a hard bottom habitat that the marine organisms can attach to, which will in turn harbor bait fish, which will in turn attract our sport fish,” Walter said.
His group is splitting the $350,000 cost with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
The department’s artificial reef program manager, Craig Gothreaux, says the new reef is for habitat, and oystering won’t be allowed there. But he says it’s expected to be a breeding ground that will replenish the lake over time.
Gothreaux said the site was chosen because it has a thinner layer of soft mud than other areas; there were few oysters around; and, at 8 feet, it’s deep relative to the rest of the lake. The reef is only 2 feet high so ships have a 6-foot clearance.
Walter said the new reef is the third artificial reef the CCA has built in Calcasieu Lake. The others were created in 2007 and 2012.
Gothreaux said dredging the Calcasieu Ship Channel in the 1920s let saltwater travel farther north than ever before.
“Some of the historic productive beds that were right at where the ship channel is, that’s where we’re not seeing as much oyster growth,” Gothreaux said.
Information from: American Press, https://www.americanpress.com
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