Yesterday, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham signed an order to close seed-oyster harvest in selected public oyster areas east of the Mississippi River effective Monday, November 14, at one-half hour past sunset.
The harvest of legal-size oysters (≥ 3 inches) for market sales is allowed to continue in these areas until further notice.
The following areas are affected by the seed-oyster harvest closure:
1. The public oyster seed grounds north of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet; and
2. The public oyster seed grounds and reservations south of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet and west of a line that generally runs from California Point northeast to Point Gardner.
These areas were determined by LDWF biologist to hold only small amounts of seed oyster stock and a significant portion of the available stock has been harvested thus far during the 2011/2012 oyster season. Additionally, sampling of seed-oyster loads on commercial vessels has determined that excessive amounts of non-living cultch material (reef shell, etc.) is being removed during seed harvest. This activity threatens the long-term sustainability of the reefs by removing critical settlement substrate upon which oyster larvae settle and grow. Based on current harvest pressure and the estimated low oyster stock size, these areas should be closed to protect from further impacts.
All other details, rules and regulations of the 2011/2012 oyster season remain in effect until further notice.
For the latest on the 2011/2012 oyster season visit: http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/oyster-seasons.