Oystermen say season is off to a slow start

By Al Showers – bio | email

Oystermen said the recent closing of two oyster reefs in Hancock County won't have a major impact on their season. They said with the season off to a slow start, they don't need any more obstacles.

Drew Livings has worked as an oysterman for more than 26 years. He said it's been a tough season so far, but his crew has managed to haul in the ten sack limit each day.

"Not too good. Fair, you can make somewhat of a living," said Drew Livings.

Several oyster reefs in Mississippi waters opened this week to harvest by tonging only.  Dredging for oysters remains off limits.

Two of the reefs opened Monday. Waveland and St. Stanislaus reefs were closed again because of a wastewater discharge in the area.

"That's really not going to affect us any because they got our main reef open so as long as the main reef out front is open we can go out and catch them," explained Livings.

He said so far his catch has been hit and miss.

"For some reason the oysters that are in the deeper waters are dead more so than in the shallower waters. I don't know what's causing that. Whether or not it was the fresh water that we got or something to do with all the oil spill, I don't know. As long as you stay in the shallows you can catch the better oysters that are alive and not the dead ones," said Livings.

Finding dead oysters has some fishermen worried.

"I'm affair of selling my oysters because I never know if they're good or bad. Just a chance I've got to take," said oysterman, Tommy Deenif.

He and others said they're just happy to be back on the water.

"I'm Glad to be at work," said Deenif.

Livings echoed his words.

"I can't complain too much. The good Lord blessed us with work. As long as we're working, I'm happy," said Livings.

The Department of Marine Resources shut down the St. Stanislaus and Waveland reefs Wednesday because of a high bacteria count in the water near those reefs.

The reefs that were closed will likely reopen once water samples in the area are given the okay.

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