A University of New Orleans biologist recently earned a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for a research project on sustainable harvesting methods for oysters.
The grant, which amounts to $40,000 over the next two years, will help Thomas Soniat, a professor of research in the biological sciences department, to gather and analyze data about growing oysters and their natural mortality.
Louisiana's oyster management strategy has historically been successful at conserving and sustaining growth and harvests. These efforts have been heightened recently as leaders develop the Sustainable Oyster Shellstock model. The model is a set of guidelines for commercial harvest levels and also for conserving oyster habitat by maintaining the area’s underlying reef.
This model uses data that researchers like Soniat have gathered in recent years. Some of this data is from general assumptions and some from quantitative sampling. The scientists must evaluate and analyze data about the local oyster population to determine that the data for oyster growth and mortality is current.
Soniat and his fellow researchers collaborated with the Canizaro Livingston Gulf States Center for Environmental Informatics at UNO, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fishers, and Louisiana State University.