Scott Satchfield / EyewitnessNews
NEWORLEANS-- It's a chance for local restaurants to show off creativity and for the Louisiana oyster industry as a whole -- an opportunity to expand its market.
A little more than a year after the BP oil spill, restaurateurs say the New Orleans Oyster Festival, now in its second year, gives the industry a boost.
'Slowly, slowly we're going to get back,' said Andrea Apuzzo, chef/owner of Andrea's Restaurant.
Apuzzo and other local chefs prepared numerous types of oyster dishes in the French Quarter Sunday, the final day of the 2nd annual event.
It's a celebration of oysters as the industry continues dealing with numerous challenges, from lingering effects due to the BP oil spill to recent freshwater diversion events.
'The high river we had last year, the really high river we had this year, the Bonnet Carre Spillway opening -- it's just caused havoc in the whole industry, you know, probably more so than any period in the last 100 years,' said Mark Schexnayder with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
Schexnayder says work is underway to help, however.
Through a $500,000 grant, state biologists have deployed more than 100 million oyster larvae and half a million immature oysters into reef areas to help rehabilitate these critical breeding grounds.
'In nature, an oyster bed will spawn in the spring and summertime. We can spawn year-round, make seed where seed wouldn't be produced. So, we can actually accelerate production in areas where we couldn't before,' he said.
But, while it's been a tough year for the industry, some who rely on oysters for their livelihood say things could've been much worse.
Drago's owner Tommy Cvitanovich says he expected a greater freshwater impact.
'The currents and Mother Nature have been working with us on the east side, the west side, Barataria Bay, Davis Pond hasn't been opened, so we're getting a break there,' he said.
And as efforts to replenish the supply get underway, industry leaders and elected officials want to remind everyone, what is available, is good.
'If we're gonna put something on someone's plate, it's safe to eat,' said St. Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro. 'Come enjoy it, because it's the best you can get in the world.'