BILOXI -- Officials with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources announced Monday the agency will begin an emergency oyster resource recovery program in response to the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway on Sunday.
"We are initiating this emergency program to relocate live oysters to areas that will benefit our oyster resource," said Jamie M. Miller, DMR's executive director.
The agency will pay fishermen using disaster funds received in 2014 as a result of the damages from the 2011 opening of the Bonnet Carre.
DMR will hold informational meetings at 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the auditorium of the Bolton Building. Eligible participants also will be able to sign up for the program at the meetings.
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Those who qualify include Mississippi commercial fishermen who had a license in 2011 and commercially harvested oysters in one or multiple years prior to 2011.
"At this time, we don't know how long the Spillway will remain open or how much fresh water could flow into the Mississippi Sound," Miller said. "But we want to be proactive in response to the potential effect on our oyster reefs."
Phase I of the program will include taking oysters from the western part of the Mississippi Sound and moving them to eastern sections of the Sound and the Biloxi Back Bay.