Governor Tate Reeves announced Wednesday that the U.S. Department of the Treasury has approved a RESTORE Act grant award of $7.62 million for the construction of the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Oyster Hatchery and Research Center, located at USM’s Gulf Coast Research Lab at Cedar Point in Ocean Springs. The grant is administered by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).
“Oyster farming plays a huge role in both the economy and ecology of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. This investment in restoring the oyster population will help boost our state’s economy and reinvigorate the Gulf Coast for years to come,” said Governor Tate Reeves. “This industry has taken serious hits in the past several years. We are truly grateful for President Trump and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin’s support of the University of Southern Mississippi and the Gulf Coast’s efforts to rebuild this vital part of our state’s economy.”
The preliminary design includes hatchery and oyster larvae production space, algae (feedstock) cultivation space, a laboratory, and support office space.
The center is currently in the design phase, and it is anticipated that USM will provide approximately $1.2 million in state funding for facility construction costs in addition to the RESTORE Act funding. An additional $4 million in RESTORE Act funding was included in MDEQ’s restoration planning for procurement and installation of the aquaculture systems equipment but has not yet been submitted to the U.S Department of the Treasury pending final design.