Fishermen find a way to cope with the slow start of oyster season

Fishermen find a way to cope with the slow start of oyster season
Bobby Barnett, of Gulfport, has been collecting the bounty of South Mississippi waters since the 1970s. (Photo source: WLOX)
Bobby Barnett, of Gulfport, has been collecting the bounty of South Mississippi waters since the 1970s. (Photo source: WLOX)

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - This year's oyster season is off to a slow start, but fishermen in Pass Christian are still finding a way to make a catch.

Bobby Barnett, of Gulfport, has been collecting the bounty of South Mississippi waters since the 1970s. He says over the years, he has seen the count of oysters decrease.

He's waiting and hoping that this year, things will be different.

"From what I understand, they're having a limited oyster season, and we haven't switched over yet from skimming and trolling to oystering. We're just kind of doing a wait and see. Look and see how it's going to be," Barnett said.

In the meantime, and while temperatures are still bearable, Barnett is still able to catch plenty of shrimp.

"The shrimp are still relatively nice. This is a 16/20 we're still catching now, and we got large shrimp," Barnett said. "This is more of a jumbo. We have a large shrimp too. We look for the size to get smaller this week with this next cold front approaching, but right now, the shrimp are still really nice."

Even though Barnett is happy to still be bringing in jumbo shrimp this time of year, he's ready for the day he gets to dredge for oysters.

"You know, Mississippi doesn't have a great amount of area that we work, so I think we tend to over fish it a little bit. It looks like the oysters may be getting better from what the DMR told me yesterday, but it's very limited area, very limited sack resources," Barnett said.

The Commission on Marine Resources voted to allow a limited dredging season, despite recommendations from Department of Marine Resource's scientists. There's no set date, but officials will be keeping an eye on the oyster numbers.

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