Oyster reef habitat creation pre-bidding discussion set for next week

Published July 14, 2023
Updated: July 14, 2023

OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss.— Bidders will soon have the opportunity to learn more about how they can be involved with a recent partnership between the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) and the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) to create an experimental oyster reef habitat in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Prospective bidders are invited to a pre-bid meeting on Tuesday, July 18, at 2 p.m., at the Directors House on the Halstead Campus, 703 East Beach Drive in Ocean Springs. The meeting will allow bidders to ask questions and learn more about the project requirements. A record of the meeting discussions will be added as an addendum on the bid posted to provide clarity.

Through Bid # 23‐## University of Southern Mississippi Lease Area - Oyster Reef Plot Creation, USM is seeking a contractor to create multiple one-acre oyster-reef plots (6 per lease area) within four 50-acre lease areas.

According to an advertisement for bids by the Sun Herald, Bidders can electronically submit their bid by visiting Sell - Buying and Selling to Government of Mississippi (ms.gov).  The Legal and Public bid notice was posted in the Sun Herald on July 13 and will remain open until August 11, 2023. The permits required to construct the oyster reefs were approved on March 30 by the U.S. Army Corps or Engineers (USACE) and the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR).

Dr. Safra Altman, a research ecologist in ERDC’s Environmental Laboratory, looks forward to the opportunities the permit makes possible for her and fellow scientists.

“Receiving permit approval and moving forward with the contract is an important milestone because it allows us to begin placing oyster reefs in the water to gain insight on best practices for oyster reef restoration in the Mississippi sound,” said Altman. “ We hope to inform restoration and management strategies for oysters, as well as federally protected Gulf sturgeon and finfish.”

ERDC and USM announced this multi-year collaboration in January 2021. The project’s goal is to investigate methods for optimizing oyster habitat restoration in the area, which would lead to oyster population recovery and enhancement of ecosystem services in coastal waters. The project also aims to evaluate whether the oyster reefs impact the use of critical habitat by Gulf sturgeon, a federally protected species.

To request a link for virtual attendance to Tuesday’s meeting, please contact Jessica Browder, business manager of the Mississippi RESTORE Act Center of Excellence at USM, at Jessica.Browder@usm.edu.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Ecosystem Management and Restoration Research Program funds the project.