From The Daily Advertiser - Lafayette, Louisiana
Reef rebuilding begins;
project boosts coastal fisheries
By Jason Brown
PRIEN POINT, LA - Oct 21, 2021 - The Louisiana Wetlands
Association began construction of their long-awaited oyster
reef in Prien Point on Friday by dumping thousands of pounds
of oyster shells into the bay.
The benefits of the oyster reef, nicknamed Ronney's Reef after
the late Ronney Mayard who was instrumental in the project,
could begin as soon as today, said LWA President Wayne Touchet.
Touchet said the reef should immediately begin attracting
fish, which feed off the sea creatures and oyster spat that
cling to the underwater structure. The reef could become a
live oyster bed within months, but it will be permanently off
limits to commercial oyster fishing or harvesting. However,
the site will be open to other types of fishing.
State Rep. Mickey Frith, D-Abbeville, also was instrumental in
the project and created legislation to allow for the reef's
Frith, a self-proclaimed environmentalist and outdoor
sportsman, said the reef could provide a big economic boost to
the area by attracting fishermen to the bay.
The reef also will help offset Vermilion Parish's increasing
problem with coastal erosion.
Frith and Touchet pointed to an area referred to as the "4
Mile Canal" and said it was originally only 100 feet wide.
Today, it's at least 300 feet wide because of erosion.
Frith said if the reef is left alone, it could grow and result
in "natural coastal erosion prevention in the bay."
The project was made possible through a grant from the Gulf of
Mexico Foundation, as well as funding from the state and
in-kind matches totaling about $125,000.
"It's been a tremendous undertaking. None of our group had any
experience in building reefs before," Touchet said as he stood
on the bow of the Isabella, one of two boats charged with
hauling the shells to the site.
The boats belong to the Bagala Oyster Company, which expects
to bring more than 20 loads of shells out into the project
When it is complete, the reef will be about 75 feet wide and
600 feet long and will stand anywhere from 1 foot to 2 feet
high, Touchet said.
At the site Friday, Michael and Stuart Bagala blasted water
onto the shells, pushing them from the boat's deck into the
The oysters gave off a pungent odor, but to LWA members, it
was a smell of success and promise.
"Smells like perfume to me," said Ronney's widow, Dixie Mayard.
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