State's Oyster Reefs Suffer Damage From Ivan

Gulf Shores, AL – Officials say oyster reefs in the state have suffered severe damage from Hurricane Ivan's wave surge. They say it flushed out about 80 percent of the four million dollars crop and disrupted the livelihood of about 200 oystermen who work the reefs. State Marine Resources Chief Vernon Minton of Gulf Shores says it could take two years to restore the reefs. He says Alabama's reefs were the hardest hit among the Gulf states. Avery Bates of Bayou La Batre is the vice-president of the Organized Seafood Association of Alabama. He says some oyster fishermen have relocated to Mississippi or Louisiana. Both of those states had less damage from Ivan. Florida has apparently suffered severe losses to some of its oyster reefs as well. Gulf states' oyster reefs could be partly restored through a nine million dollar federal grant for oyster bed re-seeding and rehabilitation. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will determine how the funds will be distributed to affected areas in Alabama in in the other hurricane-hit states.