New record broken as the oyster harvest season gets off to a good start
By Ariel Mallory
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DAUPHIN ISLAND, Alabama (WALA) – Officials say this is one of the best opening days they have seen in decades, as the start of the oyster harvest season began on Monday.
The public reefs are now open to all commercial and recreational fishermen, and people lined up in the morning to launch their boats near Dauphin Island.
A new record has already been set for the number of pickers that went out.
The director of the marine resources division, Scott Bannon, said last year that they had seen around 110 sensors and had already exceeded that number.
“Today being day one, we had probably the best turnout we’ve ever had in my twenty-five years,” said Bannon. “We had about 150 catchers and we had about 650 bags of harvested oysters, so it was a good day.”
Although Alabama is one of the Gulf Coast‘s biggest processors, Bannon says oysters have been in limited supply in recent weeks.
“I have been to several restaurants in recent history and I just sat down and thought I would like to have oysters. And you would think I would know from all people that they can be hard to find, ”Bannon explained. “I was in one of the pavement restaurants and they didn’t have any oysters available.”
R&A Oysters is a local oyster supplier in Mobile County.
President and owner Rodney Fox says this has been a tough year for everyone.
Fox says that besides a pandemic, natural disasters have not made things easier.
“It has been a difficult year on the Gulf Coast. A lot of people probably know that during the summer months there aren’t a lot of open areas, ”Fox said. “Louisiana is probably the main area, well, a lot of closures, Hurricane Ida shut things down for maybe three weeks and there were other closures.”
Commercial and recreational fishermen can only go out from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
To be a commercial fisherman, you must have a commercial license and complete a training session with the Division of Marine Resources.
A recreational fisherman does not need a license, but is entitled to a limit of 100 oysters on open reefs.
Harvesters are only allowed a limit of 6 bags.
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