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Dr. Peter Frederick secures funding for oyster restoration ,

Peter Frederick, UF Water Institute Affiliate Faculty member, and his team have secured $8.3 million to help restore oyster reefs in the Big Bend coastline.

Probed by questions from the oyster industry the team’s research found that over the past 30 years offshore oyster reefs have declined by 88 percent. The Recovery and Resilience of Oyster Reefs in the Big Bend of Florida project will help restore 32 acres (up to 3 linear miles) of a particularly important reef chain.

“We have demonstrated that the offshore reef chains specifically serve as a leaky dam, holding freshwater along the coast and serving to create zones of intermediate salinities,” said Frederick, Research Professor in the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and UF Water Institute Faculty Advisory Board Member.

Healthy reefs therefore affect the estuarine productivity of huge areas of inshore bays, creeks, salt marshes and coastal forests.

The project plans to provide lost substrate to areas of reef that have shown degradation from repeated high salinity events. To provide long-term stability in the reef, limestone boulders covered in clam and oyster shells will be placed to encourage new oyster growth.

“We believe that restoring the extent and elevation of this reef will make the coastal zone more resilient to the effects of sea level rise and global change,” said Frederick.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund has provided the funding for this project that will begin in 2017.