Late Friday afternoon (Feb. 17, 2017), the Office of the Governor announced on the RESTORE the Texas Coast website that Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is on the “short list” to receive $8.25 million for a new Oyster Resource and Recovery Center, which will be located almost two hours north of Corpus Christi in Palacios, Texas.
“I am glad to see Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi recognized for the crucial role they play in improving and preserving the economy and the environment in the Gulf Coast region,” said Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp. “As the university best positioned to secure a bright future for this vital part of the state, A&M-Corpus Christi is very deserving of this honor.”
In 2014, Texas produced one-fourth of the Gulf oyster harvest, which resulted in a $19 million dollar boost to the economy of coastal communities throughout the state. Oysters have long been considered more than an economic boon for the Coastal Bend as reefs provide habitat for sport fish as well as provide valuable protection from beach erosion. The proposed RESTORE Bucket 1 funding will support the construction and four-year operation of an Oyster Resource and Recovery Center.
The new recovery center will focus on several specific goals:
“This has been a multi-year effort by our faculty and partners around the Coastal Bend,” said Dr. Kelly Quintanilla, Interim President and CEO of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. “Without the incredible support of our community, Governor Abbott, state legislatures, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Commissioner Toby Baker, this crucial step forward in funding would not have been possible.”
The major mission of the proposed recovery center will be to produce organisms for local aquaculture and restoration efforts. The center will also help to provide an excess of oyster stock to prevent loss due to possible future catastrophic events such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and Hurricane Ike. Another aspect of the center will focus on educating producers on sustainable production and harvesting methodologies, mitigation procedures and environmental impact.
The partnerships created by this project will support efforts along the Texas coast as well as new and on-going projects across the Gulf. Texas Oyster Resource and Recovery Center partners include Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Texas Sea Grant, and the City of Palacios, Texas. Commercial seafood producers including Arnold's Seafood, Misho's Oyster Company, Prestige Oysters, Inc., Valentino's Seafood, U.S. Sea Products and Hillman's Shrimp and Oyster Company will also support recovery center efforts.