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Oyster hatchery under construction at Grand Isle

Last Modified: Monday, August 12, 2013 10:08 AM

GRAND ISLE (AP) — After years of planning and years of catastrophes, a building to house oyster hatchery operations on Grand Isle is under construction and expected to provide a big boost to Louisiana's oyster industry.

John Supan, hatchery director and research professor with Louisiana Sea Grant, told The Advocate the $3 million hatchery building will be a vast improvement over the operations of the hatchery during the past 20 years.

"This is my dream building," said Supan. "I started designing this building right after (Hurricane) Katrina."

This hatchery will be indoors, in contrast to the outdoor hatchery they've been using.

That outdoor hatchery came with a number of drawbacks, including having to depend on weather conditions, water temperature, water salinity and moving all the equipment to a safe location anytime there's a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico.

Storms meant days of packing up equipment, hauling it to LSU, securing the facility and then putting it all back after the storm passed. In addition, brood oyster stock being kept in low-temperature water to make sure they wouldn't spawn were put in the farm area near the hatchery in advance of a storm. Once that stock hit the warm water, it was triggered to spawn, and that meant additional lost time for the hatchery and research operations, Supan said.

"That pretty much put a wrench in our hatchery operations," Supan said.

If a storm occurred in September, that meant they were only weeks from potential cold fronts that could come through and end their hatchery operations for the season.

"All the issues of being an outdoor hatchery," Supan said. "If it sounds like I'm excited about this new building, it's because I am."

When the building is completed early next year and the equipment is moved inside, generators will keep the hatchery water recirculating.

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