New oyster reefs open for harvest - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

New oyster reefs open for harvest

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) -

The Department of Marine Resources made a lot of Coast fishermen happy when they opened two more oyster reefs for harvest. The Waveland and St. Stanislaus reefs are normally reserved areas for oystermen who use tongs to harvest the delicacy. But in a surprise move, those reefs have been temporarily opened to oystermen who dredge for oysters.

Nearly 100 boats took to the waters Tuesday morning in search of hard shell oysters.

While the two new reefs were just opened, two other reefs that have already been harvested were closed.

"It would have been the end of our season if they wouldn't have given us this little opening, and they opened up another spot for us so we can get another pay check before Christmas," said Oysterman Kevin Livings. "If they hadn't give this to us, cause they shut the reef down, we'd all be sitting home wondering how we're going to pay our bills."

Oysterman Masin Sonnier agreed with him.

"With more reefs opened, that means there are more oysters out there to get. It means more money and more chance to make more money."

Oysterman Henry Schmidt isn't sure about that.

"It's getting slim. We didn't even get our limit today. We got ten sacks. Maybe better luck tomorrow."

Schmidt said opening new reefs is a good thing, but the competition to harvest the oysters is stiff.

"Just a lot of boats, man. A lot of boats."

The new reefs will open to dredgers for about two weeks. Tongers will be given an extra week to harvest.

"It's good the way they are doing it at the end of the season, cause there are no tongers down there. It's too deep," Livings said.

The oystermen just hope the season lasts as long as possible.

"I'm hoping they do because once they close them, we've got to go to Louisiana and work," explained Sonnier.

Oystermen have had a rough go of it ever since the BP oil spill and the opening of a spillway in Louisiana which pushed fresh water into the Gulf.

Copyright 2012 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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