SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Discussion about the oyster industry dominated Tuesday's monthly meeting of the Commission on Marine Resources.
"Let's look at restoring our oyster reefs in Jackson County," Jackson County Supervisor Randy Bosarge told the CMR.
He grew up tonging for oysters in places like Graveline Bayou.
"And I can tell you that back in the day, in the 60s and 70s, oysters were so good that I'd eat most of them before I'd put them in the bucket," he said.
Despite a new sewer project, high levels of bacteria still prevent the opening of any oyster reefs in Jackson County.
But the CMR is working on it.
"Come up with a management plan where we can open some of these areas at specific times of the year when water quality meets all the standards," said Commissioner Steve Bosarge.
Along with discussing future plans to restore reefs, commissioners also got an earful from fishermen about the overall state of their industry.
"Our oyster plan is crap. It's unfriendly to the oyster fishermen. And that's why the oyster industry is down the way it is. We've got to tweak that thing. We've got to get the rainfall changed. We've also got to get that river stage changed," said veteran oyster fisherman George Storrs.
"Something's got to be done. I mean, I'm just a fisherman with a voice. And I see what's happening to my industry and I'm saddened," said James "Catfish" Miller.
Despite this year's challenges of flooding and red tide and the Bonne Carre spillway opening, the overall harvest is better than last year.
"So far, to date, we've had just over 28,000 sacks of oysters. And last year we had just over 26,000, so we're on mark to have a pretty good year this year. We just need Mother Nature to cooperate with us," said the DMR's Joe Jewell.
The season remains closed for now, with the DMR taking daily water samples to determine when it might reopen. Jewell said water testing last week was not favorable for reopening oyster season. He told commissioners the Pearl River, which impacts water quality at the reefs, is expected to crest later this week.