Large Reconstruction Efforts Aim to Restore Oyster Reefs in St. Charles Bay

Press Release
St. Charles Reef Restoration

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Large volumes of oyster shell and rock material are currently being placed in St. Charles Bay near Rockport, Texas to create a new oyster reef to restore oysters to the area. This is a continued effort of the Coastal Conservation and Restoration group at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI) at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, in partnership with Derrick Construction Company, the Coastal Conservation Association, the Texas General Land Office, the National Wildlife Federation, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

St. Charles Bay was closed to oyster harvest by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Commission in 2017. Since, the Sink Your Shucks™ oyster shell recycling program, also led by the Coastal Conservation and Restoration group, has been placing recycled oyster shells into the bay near Goose Island State Park. Using rocks as a base layer, which is then topped by recycled oyster shells, will add significant structure so that new oyster reef habitat can be established over a larger surface area. So far, the group has restored some 25 acres of reef following the initial bay closure.

“This is the first large reef reconstruction effort after the bay’s closure,” said Dr. Pollack, HRI Chair for Coastal Conservation and Restoration. “At HRI, we have done everything we can to support the TPWD Commission’s wise decision to conserve these important resources. Using the best available science, restoration of oyster reefs within closed waters will help jump start oyster recovery.”

Pollack said that HRI will continue to work with TPWD and with diverse partners including the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve, Coastal Conservation Association, FlatsWorthy, and the Nature Conservancy to look for ways to keep doing this work in bays throughout the Texas Coast, focusing next on oyster reefs in Mesquite, Carlos, and Ayers Bays which were closed to harvest in 2022.

 “Mesquite Bay is the next on our list for prioritizing reef restoration efforts,” Pollack said. “In areas that have been closed to oyster harvest, our lab will also continue our monitoring efforts to evaluate and compare natural reef recovery to that of actively restored reefs.”

The oyster recycling program, Sink Your Shucks™, was founded by HRI in 2009. The program was the first in Texas that reclaims oyster shells from local restaurants and returns them to our local waters providing substrate to form new reefs and new habitat for fish, crabs, and other organisms.

Those interested can learn more about the work being done by HRI’s Coastal Conservation and Restoration group on their website. More information about Sink Your Shucks™, as well as educational resources about oyster conservation and research, click here: