DMR: Mississippi seafood safe to eat - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

DMR: Mississippi seafood safe to eat

The DMR's Joe Jewell said the agency has taken more water samples with this event than it has in the history of the agency. (Photo source: WLOX) The DMR's Joe Jewell said the agency has taken more water samples with this event than it has in the history of the agency. (Photo source: WLOX)
Jewell told commissioners seafood is still safe to eat and a weekend cold front should knock out the harmful algal bloom or "red tide" in the Mississippi Sound. (Photo source: WLOX) Jewell told commissioners seafood is still safe to eat and a weekend cold front should knock out the harmful algal bloom or "red tide" in the Mississippi Sound. (Photo source: WLOX)
The red tide event is responsible for at least 14 fish kills along the Mississippi coastline.  (Photo source: WLOX) The red tide event is responsible for at least 14 fish kills along the Mississippi coastline.  (Photo source: WLOX)
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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

The latest water samples from the DMR show the red tide is still impacting the Mississippi Sound. So far, that harmful algal bloom has resulted in fish kills, dead birds, the closing of beaches and a shutdown of oyster season. But seafood is still safe to eat, according to the DMR.

That was among the main messages at Tuesday’s Commission on Marine Resources meeting.

"As you well know, we have a significant red tide or harmful algal bloom occurring," said Joe Jewell, as he updated commissioners on the red tide problem.

The scientific name of the culprit is Karenia brevis. First reported on December first, DMR has been taking water samples ever since.

"We have collected more water samples than we ever have in the history of our agency. And we are continuing to water sample," said Jewell.

Cell counts over five thousand per liter raise concern. The latest samples south of the barrier islands are still in the hundreds of thousands.

"Somewhere around 100,000 is where you can visibly and clearly see it in the water column. These photographs were taken December 10th from our airplane just south of Horn Island," said Jewell, as he presented a slide show summary.

Jewell told the commission there have been 14 reported fish kills connected with the red tide, and obviously it is still a problem. 

Along the beachfront near the Biloxi lighthouse there are hundreds of dead fish. It is not only unsightly, but the smell is horrible. But despite the presence of dead fish, the CMR assures the public, it's safe to eat Gulf seafood.

"Eating seafood in restaurants and retail markets right now is safe. We closed those areas before any shellfish could be harvested out of them," said CMR Chairman Richard Gollott. 

"We feel very confident that all seafood is safe to consume," Jewell added.

And while the DMR says it's also safe for recreational fishermen to consume their catch, people should avoid eating fish gizzards or livers, because that's where the toxin collects.

As for an end to red tide, the predicted cold front this weekend may do the trick.

"And should that event occur, we do expect and anticipate the bloom to subside," Jewell told the CMR.

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