CMR sets new oyster regulations - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

CMR sets new oyster regulations

New regulations for this year's oyster season in Mississippi were approved by the Commission on Marine Resources at Tuesday’s monthly meeting. (Photo source: WLOX) New regulations for this year's oyster season in Mississippi were approved by the Commission on Marine Resources at Tuesday’s monthly meeting. (Photo source: WLOX)
SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) -

New regulations for this year's oyster season in Mississippi were approved by the Commission on Marine Resources at Tuesday’s monthly meeting.

Among the issues considered: a license moratorium and raising the sack limits.

How best to manage the oyster resource has been a frustrating issue for both commissioners and fishermen. But both sides had plenty to say at the CMR meeting.

“The fishermen are getting frustrated. And they don't want to be a part of anything, because they're never listened to anyhow. So, I mean, I don't know,” said John Livings, oyster fisherman.

There is frustration among both fishermen and CMR commissioners. They discussed a proposed license moratorium and plans to increase daily sack limits.

“In the past, no management plan at all. It was just open it up and let the fishermen go catch whatever they could. We're not doing that,” said CMR chairman Richard Gollott.

But despite the proposal to double the dredging sack limit from 10 to 20 sacks a day, several fishermen spoke out against it.

“Our reefs are very severely hurt and damaged. And I honestly don't think that we have the amount of sacks that you say we have,” said Andrew Livings, commercial fisherman.

Research from the DMR staff shows nearly 90,000 sacks of legal sized oysters available for harvest.

The questions facing commissioners: Should we limit the total sacks taken? And what about long term sustainability of the resource?

“We've got to come up with a plan. And that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to work towards getting something that's going to get you all back working every year. Year after year,” said commissioner Ernie Zimmerman.

“You've got to do something to get the fishermen money. I mean, I don't know what you've got to do. We've got the Bonnet Carret Spillway y'all got money for. That's supposed to be for the fishermen. We didn't get none of that. You've got BP money. Supposed to be for the fishermen. Ain't got none of that,” said Ben Tillman, oyster fisherman.

After more debate, the CMR voted to raise the sack limits to 10 sacks a day for tonging and 15 sacks for dredging. The overall limit for the season was set at 35,000 sacks.

“I think the more data we get in this, the more we can manage this thing scientifically. And that's where we're headed,” said Gollott.

The moratorium on new licenses goes into effect immediately.

As for the 35,000 sack limit for the season, the total harvest for all of last year was just over 20,000 sacks. So, there's a good chance fishermen won't reach that number.

Copyright 2015 WLOX. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly