MS oyster harvest slashed to just 10,000 sacks

MS oyster harvest slashed to just 10,000 sacks

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Mississippi oysters will be in short supply this fall. The Commission on Marine Resources agreed Tuesday to limit the season to just 10,000 sacks, which is less than a third of the 35,000 sacks landed last fall.

Erik Broussard, the Shellfish Bureau Director at the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, made that recommendation to the CMR to allow the coast reefs time to rebuild.

"Last year, we were expecting a good harvest, but the rain in August impacted the oyster reefs. Nearly all of the coast oysters were killed last year," said DMR spokeswoman Melissa Scallan. "We are being proactive in doing this so we can rebuild the reefs."

DMR shellfish experts will monitor each reef and close individual reefs once the 30 percent limit is harvested.

The DMR will open the Biloxi Bay Reefs on Oct. 2, and the western reefs in Pass Christian on Nov. 13.

Scallan said the Biloxi reefs are opening earlier to allow oystermen to take advantage of the usually drier weather in October. Even a half inch of rain would force the shallow Biloxi reefs to close, Scallan said.

Reef restoration efforts and cultch planting took place in the spring and summer to give reefs a good foundation, but Scallan said it takes time for the oysters to grow.

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