BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Fresh Mississippi oysters should be available just before Christmas. That's because the CMR voted Tuesday to extend oyster season, despite its staff's recommendation that all the reefs be closed.
Before any decision making about oyster season, the CMR heard the harvest numbers.
"Total harvest for the State of Mississippi is 36,325 sacks. Or 42 percent harvest of what we had estimated," the DMR's Erik Broussard told commission members.
And with those numbers in mind, the staff made a suggestion.
"The recommendation would be to close all reefs in Mississippi," Broussard told the board.
But that suggestion didn't sit well with the chairman, who favors letting the fishermen work as long as possible.
"Oyster biologists I've talked with say there's absolutely no reason to leave full grown oysters out there," said Chairman Richard Gollott.
But the commissioner who represents commercial fishermen, favors more conservation of the resource.
"Try to set on a management plan. Because the management plan we've been doing is not working. It's the same old, same old, we've been doing for quite a few years. And you see which direction it's headed," said Board Member Steve Bosarge.
"If everyone that worked on this project right here's paycheck stopped when that reef closed, it would be a whole different story up here in front of this panel today, I tell you that. They need to keep in consideration that this is how we feed our kids," oyster fisherman John Livings told the commission.
"All we're taking is live oysters. All the stuff that comes off the shells, goes right back in the water to grow more reef," said his brother, fisherman Andrew Livings.
The final vote called for a five-day dredging season in the western sound, beginning December 15 and lasting no longer than December 22, with the exclusion of Area 1-B. Tonging for oysters will be allowed in Biloxi Bay, alternating with the western sound, when the Biloxi Bay waters are closed.