Fishermen, DMR work to move oysters to help boost population

Beginning at daybreak Monday, fishermen worked to catch oysters using tongs and move them to a...
Beginning at daybreak Monday, fishermen worked to catch oysters using tongs and move them to a designated barge.(Photo source: WLOX)
Updated: Dec. 10, 2018 at 11:51 AM CST
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PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Oyster fishermen on the Coast are working to save their harvest.

Fishermen and the Department of Marine Resources worked together Monday to move tens of thousands of oysters to cleaner waters. The oyster relay started at daybreak at the Pascagoula Causeway Reef in Jackson County. Commercial fishermen were allowed to catch oysters at the Causeway Reef and take them to a designated barge.

“They have these bright orange yellow plaques on their boats,” said Joe Jewell, DMR spokesperson. "Those were issued to them last week so we can automatically recognize them. There was a lot of pre-planning. We had a lot of pre-programming that occurred. So we’ve done this a few times before and it’s structured and been very orderly.”

For the first three days of the relay, fishermen are only allowed to use tongs to harvest oysters. After that, the relay will be open to harvest by tongs and dredges retrieved by hand. That will continue until the quota is reached. This year’s quota is 18,864 sacks. If an oyster harvester chooses to use a dredge, it must meet DMR specifications and must be retrieved by hand only.

The single trip limit is 20 sacks for both tongers and dredgers, with no daily limit.

“All of the Gulf States are seeing lower measures of oysters in their state waters and that includes Mississippi,” Jewell added. "This season there was not a lot of harvestable resources available but we hope to improve on that and quite quickly.”

DMR and fishermen hope by moving the oysters, it’ll help boost the oyster population.

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