Oyster fishermen working once again as reefs re-open

Published: Mar. 3, 2016 at 9:54 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 4, 2016 at 10:54 AM CST
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Two additional reefs will open on March 4. (Photo source: WLOX News)
Two additional reefs will open on March 4. (Photo source: WLOX News)

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - Fresh, Mississippi oysters are available once again now that oyster season re-opened at sunrise Thursday. After being closed since early December, oyster fishermen say they are happy to be working the reefs again.

Boats loaded with sacks of fresh oysters arrived at the seafood docks in Pass Christian late Thursday morning.

"Definitely happy to be back fishing again," said fisherman, John Livings.

Livings' boat was among the first to unload its 25 sack limit. Soon, others were waiting in line at the docks.

"They didn't grow as much as we thought they was going to grow. At least we got to go to work and make our limit. So it's good," Livings explained.

The season was shutdown December 11th by the red tide impact.  Later, excessive rainfall and the opening of the Bonnet Carre spillway provided more interruptions.

"Yeah, it's been hard on the oystermen this year," said Ted Gillespie from Alabama.

Oysters recently re-located via a DMR work program are the ones being harvested.

"Going pretty good. Lot better than what it had been. Just give us some working time, you know. Weather will straighten up and give us some working time it'd be a lot better. There's a lot of oysters out there, you know," said Gillespie.

It's not just the oyster fishermen who are happy to be back at work. Those who love to eat oysters are smiling as well, including Wayne Hicks, who bought his fresh oysters from Jerry Forte Seafood.

"I just enjoy eating them. The texture. I like charbroiling them, eating them raw. I do them a lot of different ways," said Hicks. "I bought two sacks."

How long will the season remain open is anyone's guess.

"We're really glad they finally let us go back to work. We was getting hungry," said Drew Wright, "I'm hoping they keep it open for us. Let us make, make us a little bit of money."

The DMR has announced that the following two additional reef areas will re-open to oyster fishermen on Friday:

Area II "A" – This includes northern portions of the Pass Christian and Henderson Point reefs and Hornets Reef.
Area II "B" – This includes Waveland and St. Stanislaus reefs.

The daily sack limit is 15 for tonging and 25 for dredging. All other current rules and regulations remain in effect. For more information, call the MDMR Oyster Hotline at 228-374-5167 or 1-800-385-5902.

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