Limited Oyster Season Going Well

Thanksgiving week brings quite a bounty along the oyster dock at Pass Christian Harbor.

"Yeah, it's decent. A little bit better than they thought it was going to be. But not a real good season. Just a few boats working," said seafood dealer Jerry Forte.

The limited fleet is good news for the man who oversees oyster season for the Department of Marine Resources.

Oyster reefs are still in recovery mode following significant storm damage. Too much fishing pressure could be a problem.

"It is pretty tough going right now, since we do have a lot of clusters of oysters. But I see the fishermen come in and they have the mud speckled on their shirt, and I tell them a muddy shirt is a happy shirt," said Scott Gordon, the bureau's shellfish director.

Alan Lee has that happy, muddy shirt that's the sign of a good season.

"Well, it looks pretty good. The oysters are real big on the dredging ground out there. From what we hear on the tong reef, they're small. But looks pretty good right now," said fisherman Alan Lee.

Normally, with the holidays approaching, demand for Mississippi oysters is strong. But not this year. One dealer told WLOX News he suspects it's because much of the public doesn't understand there was a limited season open this year.

Jerry Forte says the oysters being harvested are top shelf.

"Oh, they're real good. They're real salty. Got a real good taste. Best they've ever been I think. One of the best," he said.

The decent harvest during this year's limited season, holds promise for reef recovery and more successful seasons to come.

Scott Gordon says the DMR is closely monitoring a "red tide" that was responsible for a fish kill near Petit Bois Island. That condition could affect the reefs and cause oyster season to be closed early.