Mississippi oyster harvest could be lost

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - Mississippi oystermen have already been hit hard in recent years by cheap imports and other factors, and now the upcoming harvest season may be lost.

Oysters, which thrive in salt water, are dying in large numbers because of the fresh water that poured in from spillways opened to take pressure off levees protecting cities from the rising Mississippi River this summer.

The industry already has head to deal with high gas prices, damage from Hurricane Katrina and the perception Gulf oysters weren't safe to eat because of BP's oil spill last year.

Joe Jewell, assistant director of fisheries for the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, says the harvest could be restricted or canceled to give the species a chance to recover. The season usually runs from October to April.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)