CMR considers oyster harvesting change today - - The News for South Mississippi

CMR considers oyster harvesting change today


PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - There appears to be a fight brewing between the men and women who fish for oysters. The battle is over how oysters should be harvested the rest of the season.

Fishermen who use dredging equipment to snatch oysters want permission to work on tonging reefs. By law, the Commission on Marine Resources can make that adjustment, but only to manage the oyster reef properly.

Tuesday, commissioners will consider the temporary change.

Roger Ladner's crew near the Pass Christian Harbor uses dredging equipment to fill up its allotment of oyster sacks. But the dredging reefs are running out of oysters. And a season that's had more stops than starts is almost over. So Ladner would like permission to work the tonging reef areas.

"There are plenty of oysters on the tonging reef, I think," Ladner said. "It would be better for them to open it up."

Oysterman George Storrs hopes commissioners tell the dredgers no.

"They've done cleaned it all up," Storrs said. "Now they want to come and take more of the tongers' area. And I'm totally, completely against it."

Storrs works on a smaller boat, and uses tonging equipment to scoop up any oysters he can find closer to the surface. The last thing he wants to see is his reef taken over by larger boats and their nets.

"There's no good common sense involved in taking more from the tonger and giving it to the dredger. Because dredgers, all they do is destroy. They don't conserve anything," Storrs said.

"If you don't turn them over and move the oysters, they will eventually die," Ladner reasoned. "They get overpopulated, you know."

"Those oysters haven't been sitting there," Storrs countered. "I don't know who told them that. We work out there every year. Those oysters haven't been sitting there. They don't sit there but a year and we go get them."

The Commission on Marine Resources meeting is Tuesday at 2pm at the Bolton State office building in Biloxi.

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