Red Tide Closes Oyster Reefs

No Christmas miracle for Coast fishermen. Today, the Department of Marine Resources announced the historic red tide the Coast has been hit with could keep oyster reefs closed for another three months. News 25’s Katarina Luketich spoke to local fishermen who react to this devastating news.
Local fishermen like Andrew Livings rely on their oyster harvest for income.The announcement that the reefs they count on could be closed until the end of the season because of the red tide hits hard. “Depressing really,” said Livings, “Because the timeline is really what hurt us. We weren’t expecting it to be closed for such a long period of time.”
There is still a significant amount of harmful algal bloom in our Gulf waters. The bacteria affects the meat of the oyster, so water must be professionally tested and have good results for the FDA to deem our waters safe enough for harvest. The bad news is that our state was the last to be hit with the red tide, so others are in line before us, meaning it could be months before an approved organization is free to test the waters and give clearance.
So, what about local fishermen who could go almost an entire season without work? The DMR is considering a relay program to at least give them some sort of income. DMR Executive Director Jamie Miller said, “We want to explore the opportunities to go do some restoration work on the reefs and employ the fishermen as part of doing that work.”
The DMR will likely tap into federal disaster funds for a project like this. While nothing could compare to a full, rich oyster season, for the most part, these fishermen are happy the DMR recognizes their struggle and is attempting to help. Commercial oyster fisherman George Storrs said, “When you’re left in the dark you don’t know anything. And, I’m glad that Jamie Miller went ahead and called this meeting because you know he’s bringing us some light and some hope and that’s what we need.”
While there’s no clear timeline on when work could start, fishermen cling tightly to that hope.

Categories: Local News, News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *