DMR working to restore oyster reefs - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

DMR working to restore oyster reefs

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) -

Oyster fishermen in Mississippi will be facing a tough season this year. That prediction comes from Scott Gordon, who oversees the oyster industry for the Department of Marine Resources.

The oyster reefs are still recovering from the effects of several disasters.

DMR is wrapping-up the most recent cultch planting on the oyster reefs south of Pass Christian.  That's the process of helping revive and restore the reefs by spreading limestone or crushed oyster shells in the water. Gordon says this latest planting project comes at a critical time.

Captain Kenny slowly guided the "Conservationist" out of the Pass Christian Harbor on Monday morning. The destination is the Pass Marianne oyster reef, some four miles offshore.

Barges, rather than fishing boats are working the waters this day, spreading limestone over the oyster reef.

"Typically, we try to do our cultch plant activity in the spring, and then later in the late summer, early fall. And we try to time it like that to coincide with our peak "spat" set where the oyster larvae happen to be in the water," said Gordon.

Water cannons blast the limestone off the barges, spreading it across the reef area.

Workers man the water guns like some giant arcade game; taking aim at the disappearing piles of rock.

"It's over 34,000 cubic yards of limestone we've deployed. And we have also deployed 30,000 cubic yards of oyster shell."

Mississippi's oyster industry has been hit with a variety of disasters in recent years, both natural and manmade.

Just as the industry was beginning to show significant recovery following Hurricane Katrina, along came the BP oil spill. That was followed by this summer's severe drought and then finally the impact of freshwater intrusion from the spillway opening in Louisiana to help ease flooding along the Mississippi River.

"From our sampling, we estimated to have in excess of 85 percent morality on all of our western reefs. So that's where I'm hoping this cultch plant is going to help out and give us a kick start so we can get these reefs recovered," said Gordon.

It will take up to two years for baby oysters to reach legal market size once they settle on this newly planted reef material. Gordon says the planting project is critical to reviving the reefs.

"The oyster industry and the number of people that are employed and are dependent on it. It's vital to the state and to the economy of the coast," said Gordon.

Oyster season typically runs from October until April. At Tuesday's meeting of the Commission on Marine Resources, Gordon will ask for the opening of a "limited season" this year. It will likely open sometime next month, but the date hasn't been decided yet.

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.

  • NEWSMore>>

  • Wiggins firefighters rescue dogs from house fire

    Wiggins firefighters rescue dogs from house fire

    Tuesday, January 23 2018 8:35 PM EST2018-01-24 01:35:40 GMT
    Firefighters were able to rescue 2 dogs from the house fire (Photo source: Wiggins Fire Department)Firefighters were able to rescue 2 dogs from the house fire (Photo source: Wiggins Fire Department)

    The Wiggins Fire Department rescued two dogs from a house fire Tuesday. At around 3 p.m. Wiggins firefighters responded to heavy smoke and fire coming from a large, one-story house. 

    More >>

    The Wiggins Fire Department rescued two dogs from a house fire Tuesday. At around 3 p.m. Wiggins firefighters responded to heavy smoke and fire coming from a large, one-story house. 

    More >>
  • Police chief speaks about Gulfport officer injured in crash

    Police chief speaks about Gulfport officer injured in crash

    Tuesday, January 23 2018 6:30 PM EST2018-01-23 23:30:10 GMT
    Gulfport Police Officer Luis Garcia (Source: Gulfport Police Dept)Gulfport Police Officer Luis Garcia (Source: Gulfport Police Dept)

    Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania spoke about Officer Luis Garcia's sense of humor and resiliency Tuesday afternoon while discussing the police chase that put the officer in the hospital.

    More >>

    Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania spoke about Officer Luis Garcia's sense of humor and resiliency Tuesday afternoon while discussing the police chase that put the officer in the hospital.

    More >>
  • Multiple fires reported in South Mississippi

    Multiple fires reported in South Mississippi

    Tuesday, January 23 2018 6:29 PM EST2018-01-23 23:29:42 GMT
    Firefighters battled a large grass fire in Jackson County Tuesday afternoon. (Source: George Dixon)Firefighters battled a large grass fire in Jackson County Tuesday afternoon. (Source: George Dixon)

    Right now, first responders from multiple agencies in South Mississippi are responding to numerous fires. 

    More >>

    Right now, first responders from multiple agencies in South Mississippi are responding to numerous fires. 

    More >>
Powered by Frankly