Fishermen disappointed with DMR oyster recovery program - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Fishermen disappointed with DMR oyster recovery program

Boats waited for hours to unload their oyster sacks. (Image Source: WLOX News) Boats waited for hours to unload their oyster sacks. (Image Source: WLOX News)
DMR allowed each boat to fill up to 200 sacks. (Image Source: WLOX News) DMR allowed each boat to fill up to 200 sacks. (Image Source: WLOX News)
Thousands of pounds of oysters were unloaded onto this barge in Waveland. (Image Source: WLOX News) Thousands of pounds of oysters were unloaded onto this barge in Waveland. (Image Source: WLOX News)

For the first time in months, oystermen were able to get back to their normal way of life with a day of oyster harvesting, thanks to the DMR's oyster recovery program. But the job will be short lived and many aren't happy with that.

"They know that it's not the best developed program. They know it's not the best implemented, but they're forced to accept it because they have to provide and support their families," said Thao Vu, director of the Mississippi Coalition for Vietnamese-American Fisher Folks and Family (MSCVAFF)

At $20 a sack, the oystermen are allowed 200 sacks per day for the duration of the program. With 61 boats on the water and one barge to unload, it has made for an exhausting process.

"You see the unloading process is taking too long and there's not enough people helping to unload. Well, there are local fishermen whose boats weren't ready on time right, or their boats were too small. Hire them to help with the unloading and compensate them fairly," said Vu.

The smaller boats were allowed two trips, so they would be able to get close to the 200 sack limit. Jeremy Forte who was on one of those smaller boats heard that two small boats sank while trying to get the job done.

"When they were told they could only make two trips, they kind of loaded to the max," Forte said. "You can only do this for so long. They're trying to get as many while they can."

The recovery program is supposed to last for several days, until the majority of oysters can be moved from St. Joe Reef to reefs located in the eastern portion of Pass Christian or in Biloxi Bay. And while the uncertainty of the program doesn't excite some fishermen, others say they'll take what they can get.

"I feel like doing this, at least the boats have a chance to get out and make some money and that's always a good thing, you know," said Forte.

To help with unloading, some larger boats were redirected to the Pass Christian reef to unload there.

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