Under an oyster transplanting program, licensed Louisiana oyster harvesters may be permitted to move oysters from the public oyster seed grounds located in Lake Borgne and Mississippi Sound (DHH harvest areas 1 and 2) and transplant them to their private leases for later harvest. The Louisiana Department of Health (DHH) and the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries are implementing this program for the purpose of moving live oyster resources from restricted areas of the public oyster seed grounds to private leases. This will provide additional harvest opportunities for the Louisiana oyster industry to remove live oyster resources from the outfall area of the Bonnet Carre' Spillway in the event that use of the spillway is determined to be a direct threat to the oyster resource. Permit applications will be accepted at LDH from January 12, 2016 through January 22, 2016.

The two state agencies will allow such transplants on a permit-only basis and will only allow the transplant of the oyster resources in this area of the public oyster seed grounds until they are reopened. The Secretary of the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has the authority to close the oyster season in this area if excessive amounts of non-living reef material are found in the oyster loads that are being transplanted.

The transplant permit fee is $100 and a performance bond of $5,000 must accompany the transplant application. Oyster fishermen who are granted permits may be allowed to transplant during daylight hours between Feb. 1. and Feb. 14. 2016 only. Each transplant vessel must be under the direct supervision of a commissioned officer. All costs associated with the commissioned officer are the responsibility of the person securing the permit. Incomplete applications will be rejected.

The oysters that are transplanted must remain on the lease until written approval for market harvest is obtained from DHH. No part of any lease on which shellfish have been transplanted may be utilized for direct market harvesting during this period. Shellfish taken for transplanting purposes cannot be laid down within 500 feet of any adjoining lease where shellfish may be taken for sale as food during the active period of the transplant.

Oyster fishermen who receive permits may be allowed to transplant oysters taken from the public oyster seed grounds in Lake Borgne and Mississippi Sound to lease only if pre-approved by DHH. A map identifying the lease where the transplanted oysters will be bedded must accompany each permit application.

Applications for transplant permits may be obtained between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more permit information, please contact Gordon LeBlanc or Christopher Lemaire, LDH Commercial Seafood Program at (225) 342-7539 or (225) 342-7540. 

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state residents. To learn more about LDH, visit www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow DHH's Twitter account and Facebook.