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CMR approves limited oyster-harvesting season

GULF OF MEXICO — The Commission on Marine Resources has voted to open a limited oyster season in Mississippi on Sept. 30 for tonging and Oct. 14 for dredging.

The Sun Herald reports oystering will be allowed in conditionally approved areas on the Telegraph, Pass Marianne and Pass Christian reefs. Southern portions of Telegraph and Pass Marianne reefs, and all of St. Joseph’s reef, will remain closed.

Department of Marine Resources sampling shows mature oysters remain low in number, as they were last season, but growth of juvenile oysters may allow more reef areas to open later in the season or next season.

Scott Gordon, DMR’s Shellfish Bureau director, says the oyster catch also should be similar to last season’s, when 58,000 sacks were harvested.

Before Hurricane Katrina, fishermen tonged and dredged up to 350,000 sacks a season, sometimes besting all other oyster areas on the East Coast.

Setbacks have continued since Katrina, including the BP oil catastrophe in 2010 and the 2011 opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway. Gordon said DMR is hopeful reseeding of reefs will begin to bring results by 2014.

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