Jackson County

Oyster reef’s opening off Ocean Springs will boost activity at harbor

Early settlers loved oysters so much they managed to eat their way through 220,000 acres of reef covering 350 square miles.
Early settlers loved oysters so much they managed to eat their way through 220,000 acres of reef covering 350 square miles. Los Angeles Times

For the first time in many years, the state DMR is opening an oyster reef near the Ocean Springs Harbor and sacks of oysters will be hauled into the harbor beginning Nov. 1.

A major operation is expected to follow. Mayor Connie Moran looked into the matter this week and reported:

▪ DMR will open the reefs just outside the harbor and will set a trailer next to boat slips on the DMR property across from the new Harbor Green.

▪ Oyster boats will pull in there with their sacks of oysters, 15 sacks at a time, and DMR staff will inspect, tag and log in the sacks, likely between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The boats will then leave the DMR site and go to the north end of the bait shop site and pull into one of the finger piers. There will be a conveyor to transport the oyster sacks to the side of the road and a forklift will take the pallets of sacks immediately place into a refrigerated truck. Oyster harvesting is highly regulated, Moran said, and they must get the oysters under refrigeration right away.

▪ There will be no sales of sacks to retail customers at the bait shop at the harbor.

▪ There will be no more than two trucks each day and they will pull onto the bait shop property on the east side of the road and will be far away from the public boat ramps and kayak launch.

The season is not expected to last more than two months. It could be less depending on how many oysters are harvested.

Moran said she visited the site and was satisfied the short-term operation will not cause undue congestion or affect the public boat ramps or kayak launch.

“I was told that they expect perhaps 30 boats a day, depending upon the harvest,” she said. “They gave us assurances that they will keep the site clean and in good order.”

The Planning Department determined the activity is allowed in the marina commercial zone and the city business privilege licenses were acquired.

“They understand the city and our residents will be keeping a close eye on the operation, and if there are any significant problems, they will be dealt with forthwith or else the licenses will be pulled,” Moran said.

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