JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The first oyster season since BP's massive oil disaster will open November 8th, but with very strict limits. The Department of Marine Resources said Monday there will be no dredging of oyster reefs and only small areas of the Gulf will be available for tonging.
Chris Balius is getting his boat ready to go out and fish. Usually he would already be out harvesting sacks of oysters, but not this year.
"I am looking for something else to occupy my time and to provide for my family with," Balius said Monday.
The longtime fisherman said a large portion of the oyster stock is damaged and he won't be able to harvest enough to make money.
"The reefs are in real bad shape, as far as the mortality rate over the summer. It could be the oil spill, or it could be the fact of over utilizing the resource."
Leading up to oyster season, Balius and several other fishermen were the ones who asked DMR not to open this season to protect the reefs.
"If we go out there now with the low number of oysters, we will pick up our seed stocks."
Balius said the low stock is another loss for the South Mississippi's fishing industry.
"Oh yes, it's a major portion of my family's income, being able to oyster."
Balius said there are some fishermen who will still take a chance this oyster season. His only word of advice to them is to proceed with caution when on the water.
"Consider that is our seeds for tomorrow. We cook all our seeds, we might have bean soup tonight, but we are not going to have beans in the future. Same thing with an oyster reef."
DMR announced Monday that oyster season will officially open November 8th. For more information on and closed areas, call DMR's 24-hour oyster information hotline at (228) 374-5167 or (800) 385-5902.