Fishermen move oysters to boost population

Mississippi oyster fishermen are working with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources to increase the oyster population. The oyster relay initiated by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources began at legal sunrise Monday, Dec. 10, at the Pascagoula Causeway Reef in Jackson County.

All commercial fishermen who have been approved through MDMR are allowed to catch and transport oysters from this reef and unload on the designated barge.

The first three days of the relay will be open to harvest by use of tongs only. After the initial three days, the relay will be open to harvest by tongs and dredges retrieved by hand and continue until the quota of 18,864 sacks is reached or earlier by authority of the MDMR Executive Director. If an oyster harvester chooses to use a dredge, it must meet Mississippi dredge specifications and must be retrieved by hand only. It cannot be retrieved by any mechanical means.

A release from the DMR said fishermen should report to the MDMR vessel, RV Conservationist, which will be stationed at the reef. The single trip limit is 20 sacks for both tongers and dredgers, with no daily limit. Daily harvesting activities must cease by 3 p.m. Sacks will be provided by the MDMR and harvesters can collect them from the RV Conservationist, Point Park boat ramp or contractor barge. Harvesters are also required to check out at the RV Conservationist after filling each trip limit and at the end of the day.

For more information, visit dmr.ms.gov, call the oyster relay check station at 228-697-5512 or call the 24-hour Oyster Information Hotline at 228-374-5167 or 1-800-385-5902.