An adult oyster can filter as much as 50 gallons of water per day, and oyster reefs provide important habitat for many economically important species of fish, such as redfish, shrimp, and blue crabs. Oyster reefs also create physical structures that can protect marshes, sea grass beds and shorelines.

But oyster reefs have declined dramatically across the Gulf’s estuaries for a multitude of reasons, including overharvesting, dredging, and changes in the quality, quantity and timing of fresh water flowing into the estuary. But despite this decades-long decline, the Gulf coast still produces two-thirds of the nation’s oysters. Restoring oyster reefs will improve water quality and boost the health of the Gulf, while protecting shorelines from storms.