The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) reminds the public the 2012/2013 oyster season on the majority of public oyster seed grounds is set to begin Monday, October 29, 2012. The opening date of the oyster season was determined by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission at its August 2012 meeting.
Two public oyster areas, the Little Lake Public Oyster Seed Grounds and the Vermilion/East and West Cote Blanche/Atchafalaya Bay Public Oyster Seed Grounds, were previously opened on September 5, 2012 and commercial oyster harvest continues to be documented from those areas.
The area of the public grounds east of the Mississippi River and south of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, are a “sacking only” area for the 2012/2013 season and no seed oyster harvest is allowed.
The oyster season in the west cove portion of the Calcasieu Lake Public Oyster Area (DHH harvest area 30) shall open at one-half hour before sunrise on Thursday, November 1, 2012. The sack limit during this time period is set at 10 sacks per person, per vessel, per day.
The areas remaining closed for the 2012/2013 oyster season include the Public Oyster Seed Reservations in Bay Gardene and Sister Lake, the 2011 cultch plants in Mississippi Sound and California Bay within the coordinates listed below, and the 2012 cultch plants in Hackberry Bay, South Black Bay (Bay Crab), and Lake Fortuna within the coordinates listed below.
Mississippi Sound (2011) – St. Bernard Parish
A. 30 degrees 07 minutes 17.56 seconds N
89 degrees 27 minutes 52.39 seconds W
B. 30 degrees 07 minutes 26.94 seconds N
89 degrees 27 minutes 36.20 seconds W
C. 30 degrees 07 minutes 07.11 seconds N
89 degrees 26 minutes 45.48 seconds W
D. 30 degrees 06 minutes 40.93 seconds N
89 degrees 27 minutes 14.09 seconds W
California Bay (2011) – Plaquemines Parish
A. 29 degrees 30 minutes 40.42 seconds N
89 degrees 34 minutes 03.19 seconds W
B. 29 degrees 30 minutes 27.18 seconds N
89 degrees 33 minutes 21.85 seconds W
C. 29 degrees 29 minutes 54.99 seconds N
89 degrees 33 minutes 20.24 seconds W
D. 29 degrees 30 minutes 02.74 seconds N
89 degrees 34 minutes 03.93 seconds W
Hackberry Bay (2012) – Lafourche Parish
A. 29 degrees 25 minutes 21.16 seconds N
90 degrees 02 minutes 59.53 seconds W
B. 29 degrees 24 minutes 58.30 seconds N
90 degrees 02 minutes 51.34 seconds W
C. 29 degrees 24 minutes 29.25 seconds N
90 degrees 03 minutes 24.92 seconds W
D. 29 degrees 24 minutes 45.37 seconds N
90 degrees 03 minutes 35.33 seconds W
Lake Fortuna (2012) – St. Bernard Parish
A. 29 degrees 39 minutes 08.04 seconds N
89 degrees 30 minutes 28.93 seconds W
B. 29 degrees 38 minutes 33.31 seconds N
89 degrees 29 minutes 15.45 seconds W
C. 29 degrees 38 minutes 10.57 seconds N
89 degrees 29 minutes 40.71 seconds W
D. 29 degrees 39 minutes 04.41 seconds N
89 degrees 30 minutes 32.61 seconds W
South Black Bay (2012) – Plaquemines Parish
A. 29 degrees 34 minutes 41.72 seconds N
89 degrees 36 minutes 22.86 seconds W
B. 29 degrees 34 minutes 31.45 seconds N
89 degrees 35 minutes 48.68 seconds W
C. 29 degrees 34 minutes 08.12 seconds N
89 degrees 36 minutes 07.94 seconds W
D. 29 degrees 34 minutes 23.03 seconds N
89 degrees 36 minutes 43.20 seconds W
In addition, the east side of Calcasieu Lake (Department of Health and Hospitals’ harvest area 29) and the Sabine Lake Public Oyster Area shall remain closed for the entire 2012/2013 oyster season.
Oyster harvesters are also reminded that in addition to normal licenses required for the harvest of oysters, special permits are also required to fish specific public oyster areas. In Calcasieu Lake, all harvesters are required to hold a valid Calcasieu Lake Oyster Harvester Permit. The Calcasieu Lake permit is free of charge and is available from the Baton Rouge office of LDWF. Harvesters fishing all other public oyster areas are required to fish only from a commercial vessel which holds a valid Public Oyster Seed Ground Vessel Permit. The application deadline for the Public Oyster Seed Ground Vessel Permit is December 31, 2012.
Delay on a Portion Public Seed Ground East of the Mississippi River to Protect Developing Oysters
While a majority of the public seed grounds are set to open, oyster season is delayed until further notice in a portion of the public oyster seed grounds east of the Mississippi River in an effort to protect recently-settled young oysters, called spat. The oyster season was originally scheduled to open in this area on October 29, 2012. The delay includes that area of the public oyster seed grounds east of the Mississippi River, south of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, and north of a line of latitude at 29 degrees 34 minutes 48.0 seconds north.
The decision was made that the protection of the oyster spat is in the long-term best interest of oyster conservation in this area of the public oyster seed grounds as they represent the future oyster resource in an area where oyster stocks are at historic lows.
Public notice of any opening, delay, or closure of a season will be provided at least 72 hours prior to such action, unless such closure is ordered by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals for public health concerns.
Image courtesy Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries