DMR considering ban on oyster basket dredges - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

DMR considering ban on oyster basket dredges

The issue will be up for a vote at Tuesday’s Commission on Marine Resources meeting. (Photo source: WLOX) The issue will be up for a vote at Tuesday’s Commission on Marine Resources meeting. (Photo source: WLOX)
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

Tensions flared Wednesday night at the Department of Marine Resources in Biloxi, as a ban on a certain type of oyster dredging equipment is being considered.

With the oyster industry on the Gulf Coast taking a huge hit in the past decade, fisherman and the DMR have looked for ways to bring it back, including building reefs to support the oyster population.

Commissioner Jolynne Trapani and others are now trying to protect those reefs by banning a certain type of oyster dredging equipment, the basket dredge, they say tears up the reefs.

Bay St. Louis resident Harold Strong says, "The only reason they use the basket dredge is it's easier to operate, but you can't have easy and destroy the reef at same time," said Harold Strong, of Bay St. Louis.

Strong supports a ban on basket dredges, saying they act more like plows, putting too much weight on the reefs and destroying them. He favors the use of the lighter bag dredge.

"It doesn't do any good to anyone to build a reef then destroy it. It's about conservation," said Strong.

On the other side of the issue, Thao Vu, of Biloxi, says she and the people who are for the basket dredge want to see evidence that it damages the reefs.

"The basket dredge has been a long-standing practice, primarily used by the Vietnamese American fishing community and others for decades," said Vu.

Vu says the basket dredge is more effective.

"For Vietnamese American fisherman, they don't have upper body physical ability. The bag dredge is much heavier. It's a key reason why," Vu noted.

DMR says the public comments will be presented at its commission meeting on Tuesday, where the prohibition of basket dredges will be up for a vote.

They also say more public comments may be submitted to be read at Tuesday's commission meeting until 5 p.m. Monday.

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