MISSISSIPPI SOUND (WLOX) - Officials with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources are moving quickly to minimize the impact the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway could have on oysters in the Mississippi Sound.
DMR officials announced Monday they are implementing an emergency oyster resource recovery program that will put oyster fishermen to work relocating live oysters from the west side of the Mississippi Sound to the east side and Biloxi Back Bay.
DMR Executive Director Jamie Miller said it is unclear how long the spillway will stay open, but his department is taking a proactive approach to protect the oyster population.
"At this time, we don't know how long the spillway will remain open or how much fresh water could flow into the Mississippi Sound," said Miller. "We want to be proactive in response to the potential effect on our oyster reefs. We are initiating this emergency program to relocate live oysters to areas that will benefit our oyster resource."
Miller said oyster fishermen who had a license in 2011, and commercially harvested oysters in one or more years before 2011, will be eligible to sign up for the work. The program will be funded with disaster money received in 2014 as a result of damages from the 2011 opening of the spillway.
DMR will hold informational meetings about the emergency work this Wednesday at 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. at the Bolton Building in Biloxi.