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Martin County begins 4-acre Oyster Reef Restoration Project in St. Lucie Estuary
For immediate release: April 23, 2013
Stuart, Fla. - Martin County launched the Oyster Reef Restoration Program in 2005 in response to declining oyster populations in the St. Lucie estuary. Since that time, more than 30 acres of oyster habitat has been constructed with the goal of improving the water quality of the river. This week, Martin County began a new project that will add to the estuary’s oyster population in a 4-acre area near the shoreline west of Krueger Creek on the south side of the St. Lucie River, near downtown Stuart. “Monitoring efforts have provided data on the early success of our program at providing productive habitat for oyster and other estuarine species,” said Kathy FitzPatrick, Martin County Coastal Engineer. “This 4-acre project will allow us to build upon this success and continue water quality improvements in the St. Lucie Estuary.”
Oyster habitat is critical to the health of estuaries, effectively filtering nutrients, fine sediments and toxins from the water. Just one adult oyster can filter between 20 and 50 gallons of water per day. Oyster reefs also provide essential habitat structure for other species including shrimp, clams, crabs, snails and many species of fish.
This project was made possible through grant funding from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the South Florida Water Management District, who equally funded the project with a grant of more than $200,000 each. This grant includes a five-year monitoring program where oyster recruitment and water quality will be analyzed.
About Oyster Reef Restoration
Oyster reefs also provide essential habitat structure for many other forms of marine life including shrimp, clams, crabs, snails and a variety of recreationally important fish such as gag grouper, gray snapper, redfish, and sheepshead.