Bad news, oyster lovers: Mississippi oysters are likely to be scarce this year, as sampling this week found few oysters on the reefs. As MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports, Mississippi oysters used to make up 15 percent of the Gulf harvest - but that’s down sharply.
In 2012, Mississippi oysters made up only 2 percent of Gulf oyster revenues and landings. This year is unlikely to change that much. The Commission on Marine Resources yesterday approved only a limited oyster season in some areas for tonging - though they OK'd future openings if conditions improve. Scott Gorden is with the Department of Marine Resources.
There are several possible reasons why there are so few oysters. Oysterman Harold Strong of Bay St Louis thinks it's because there’s now too much saltwater in the sound.
Ed Cake, an oyster biologist and chief science officer for Gulf Environmental Associates, agrees salinity, exacerbated by drought conditions, could be a factor. He also believes there are so few oysters in part because reefs aren’t being replenished after overharvesting.
Cake also thinks that, after the BP oil spill and the opening of the Bonne Carret spillway, there aren’t enough adult oysters around to reproduce successfully.