$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.