Pelicans Help Kick Off Oyster Fest 2013

By: Brian Travis,

May 28, 2013

From out of the water, to shucked, covered in cocktail sauce and slurped away in about five minutes, Tuesday’s visit to the Bayou was about more than the freshest-possible raw oyster tasting experience–but it was a nice side benefit. Members of the New Orleans Pelicans joined local business owners and restaurateurs on a visit to local oyster beds near Empire, La. The trip was an opportunity for the organization to learn about oyster farming and how it serves in the creation and restoration of wetland habitat.

The New Orleans Pelicans are committed to utilizing their new branding as a means to educate and increase awareness about the need for coastal restoration. Today’s visit to the Jurisich Oysters family-owned oyster beds were an important step. The family took the group on its harvesting boats into the bayou and allowed the opportunity to observe as it used alabaster and limestone to build the new bedrock for future oyster beds. Owner Mitch Jurisich explained the role his oyster farm plays in coastal restoration, “Oysterman have been known since the early 1900’s as coastal planners. Our forefathers lined their shorelines with oyster shells to protect themselves because that’s where they lived… We constantly do things that improve the habitat and keep the ecosystem alive.”

The tour served as a kickoff for Oyster Fest 2013. The Co-Founder of Oyster Fest, which takes place this weekend of June 1 and 2 in the French Quarter, Sal Sunseri spoke about how important coastal restoration is to his livelihood as well. As a Co-Owner of P&J Oysters, Sunseri was thrilled to see the work being done on Louisiana’s shoreline. “The original idea was to create the oyster capital of America right here in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Part of it is that we’re celebrating the farmers, the restaurateurs and chefs that have created it,” the restaurateur explained, “What we want do now is give back to the coast. Just like the (New Orleans) Pelicans, they are directly related to coastal restoration and we want to create a partnership that helps America and the rest of the world realize just how vital the Louisiana coast is, and that the oyster creates the foundation for all fisheries and plays a major role in the restoring the coast.”