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CMR approves new oyster management season

MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST — The Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources (CMR) decided in a special session held April 6 to authorize a special management season for oyster harvest in selected areas of the Mississippi Sound.

The adopted motion states that Conditionally Approved Area II “A” and Conditionally Approved Area II “B” will be opened to dredging beginning April 12 at legal sunrise and will remain open to dredging no longer than 12 working days (working days do not include Sunday or other closures).

Crab fishermen are advised that beginning April 12, there may be oyster dredges in the above-mentioned areas and crabbers may want to remove gear from those areas prior to April 12.

The sole purpose of the April 6 public meeting was for the CMR to consider the possibility of opening underutilized oyster tonging areas in the Mississippi Sound for oyster dredging. The CMR has the authority to authorize the taking of oysters on reefs designated as tonging reefs by dredges, if the CMR finds that dredging is necessary to manage the resource properly.

Dredging activities can benefit oyster reefs by breaking up clusters of oysters, allowing them more opportunity to grow. There are also some areas infested with hooked mussels; dredging breaks up and reduces the amount of mussels, which is also beneficial to the reef. Dredging also helps to clean existing shell material from fouling, which will then be more conducive to a successful spring spat set.

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