PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - Despite fewer oysters and fewer fishermen, this year's Mississippi oyster season is going, "as well as expected." The Commission on Marine Resources heard an update on the limited season at Tuesday's monthly meeting.
Alabama oysterman Harry Harris motored into the Pass Christian harbor at noon Tuesday with another seven sack limit from his latest tonging trip. Though not all fishermen have been as lucky, many are finding some oysters.
"We have landed a total of 536 sacks of oysters. And today we have out 18 dredgers and 15 tongers," the DMR's Joe Jewell told commissioners.
This year's oyster relay project, no doubt, helped the harvest. The DMR moved thousands of oysters from the Pascagoula area to the reefs on the western sound.
"Approximately 8,326 sacks that were relayed to Area Two conditionally approved waters," said Scott Gordon.
Based on the numbers so far, the DMR reports about 75 percent of oyster tongers and dredgers are reaching their daily sack limits. Keep in mind, that's despite less-than-ideal weather conditions lately, especially on opening day.
"It was not an ideal day for tonging by any means. It was so windy and the tides were running pretty hard. That's not an ideal situation for tongers," said Gordon.
"Just in these three bad days they've had, they've harvested around $26,000 or $27,000 worth of oysters. That's very good for our fishermen," said CMR Chairman Richard Gollott.
The DMR expects the limited season to remain open at least through Thanksgiving. That's good news for Harry Harris and other oystermen, eager to make some money while they can.
So far this season, oyster fishermen are getting paid about $50 a sack for their catch.