Oystermen Headed For Record Harvest

This year's oyster harvest may be one for the record books.

Hundreds of oystermen are busy bagging their limit at area reefs. The success of the season is evident at the Pass Christian harbor during the late morning hours.

That's when oystermen return from the reefs.

Charlie Seal unloaded the final few sacks of oysters following a successful morning's work on the water. The good oyster season is evident by the flurry of dockside activity.

The harvest is headed for local markets and to satisfy seafood appetites as far away as Virginia.

Oystermen are understandably upbeat.

"They grew a good bit the last seven weeks or so when it was closed. They're looking pretty good right now. Overall, it's been all right," said Seal after he unloaded his boat.

Not exactly a rave review, but dockside comments require perspective. Commercial fishermen are almost always quite cautious when asked about the success of a season.

Watching the oyster unloading is commentary enough. Boats loaded with sacks speak for themselves.

"Other than we was closed for a month, it's not been too bad. There's been plenty of oysters. We're making a living, so," said David McCrory.

The nine year oysteman would be glad to see every season a repeat of this one.

"It's definitely been one of the good ones," he said.

Numbers from the Department of Marine Resources show just how successful this season has been. As of March 15th, oystermen had harvested just over 394 thousand sacks. That's more than the 391 thousand sacks they harvested all of last season. And it's on a pace to beat the record of four years ago, when oystermen harvested 410 thousand sacks.

They have just over five weeks to surpass the record. Oyster season closes at the end of April.

The daily limit for oysters is 30 sacks. After more than 16-thousand trips, the oystermen are averaging nearly 25 sacks per boat.