HOUMA, La. (AP) — State officials are launching a pilot program to collect data on oyster harvests on public oyster grounds.

The Vessel Monitoring System program is part of an effort to better manage Louisiana's1.6 million acres of public oyster beds.

The Courier reports the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will provide tracking units to licensed oyster harvesters, with costs limited to minimal maintenance and care.

The state is contracting with Pole Star Space Applications, a fleet management and monitoring company, to provide data collection and work with owners to install the systems.

The Wildlife and Fisheries' Oyster Task Force and the Legislature approved the program. More than 700 vessels are permitted to harvest on public oyster beds.