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By Dennis Washington
A new program is helping oyster farmers hurt financially by the COVID-19 pandemic while simultaneously improving oyster reefs on the Gulf Coast.
The Concerned Oystermen Restoring Estuaries (CORE) program buys surplus, oversized oysters from farmers and redeploys them in wild reef habitats in need of restoration. LaDon Swann, director of the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium (MASGC), said the pandemic-related closings of restaurants left Gulf Coast oyster farmers with thousands of unsold oysters and an immediate cash crisis.
“We feel bad for the farmers and wish we didn’t have to do this, but when you have farmers saying that they are going to go out of business, you got to do something,” Swann said. “That’s what Sea Grant is all about.”
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