Fishermen help move oysters to areas hard hit by Katrina

Published 4:44 pm Thursday, April 10, 2008

Oyster fishermen are busy with an offseason harvest as part of a project to move young healthy oysters into Mississippi Gulf Coast waters hard hit by Hurricane Katrina.

“What we’re doing is moving seed oysters. And that’s oysters smaller than legal size that will be able to come up to legal size in about a year or so,” said Scott Gordon, head of the shellfish bureau for the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources.

The oysters, harvested from Biloxi Bay and Davis Bayou, are transported by barge and transplanted on recovering reefs.

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Fishermen are paid $20 a sack for their work.

Tim Tillman said he and his fellow fishermen realize they are working to ensure the future of the industry.

“All these oysters will be cultivated and used in no time soon,” said Tillman.

The transplant program is just one part of DMR’s continuing efforts to assist commercial fisheries in Mississippi. The federal government has pledged $25 million over the next five years to help restore the storm battered industry.

Officials estimate some 130 oyster boats have helped harvest more than 60,000 sacks for transplanting on recovering reefs.