Posadas, B.C. Mississippi MarketMaker Newsletter, Vol. 6, Issue 18, September 28, 2016.
The Mississippi oyster industry underwent severe economic hardships due to the massive destruction and frequent closures of the state public oyster reefs associated with natural and technological disasters since 2005. The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) reported that Hurricane Katina destroyed 90-95 percent of the state oyster resources in August 2005. MDMR also stated that the 42-day opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway devastated about 86 percent of the state oyster resources during May and June 2011.
Disastrous events during the past 11 months severely affected the state oyster resources. Toxic algal blooms in the Mississippi Sound during November and December 2015 led to massive fish kills in Harrison and Hancock Counties and closure of oyster reefs from December 2015 to February 2016. As a precautionary measure, the 22-day opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway due to the Mississippi River flooding event during January 2016, resulted to the relaying of about 40,000 sacks of oysters from St. Joe Reef to safer growing areas. Freshwater intrusion due to the Pearl River flooding event in March 2016 and the flooding events during August 2016 caused severe mortalities in affected public reefs.
Several businesses are adversely affected by the destruction of oyster resources and shutdown of oyster harvesting. There are more than 650 commercial boats and vessels licensed to harvest oysters in state waters. Seafood dealers, processors, markets, and restaurants handling oyster products are negatively affected by the shortage of oysters harvested from state waters. In 2009, the entire oyster industry in Mississippi generated an economic impact of more than $23 million. This economic output created 562 jobs, generated labor income amounting to $9 million and contributed $1.15 million in indirect taxes. Further, oyster products are served in 26 percent of Mississippi restaurants.
The chart below shows the commercial oyster landings reported by NOAA Fisheries from January 2002 to December 2014. Observe that Mississippi oyster harvesting is now at its lowest levels. From the chart below, the average (and standard deviation, SD) monthly commercial landings in the month of October from 2010 to 2014 was about 32,000 (SD = 72,000) pounds of meat or about 4,500 sacks (at 7 lbs of meat per 100-lb sack of oysters). It should be emphasized that it was only in October 2013 when significant quantities of oysters were harvested from state waters since 2010.
The 2016-2017 Mississippi oyster season will open in October 3, 2016. Sun Herald (09/20/16) reported that MDMR will impose a daily sack limit of 25 sacks of oysters for dredgers and 15 sacks for those fishermen who tong for oysters. The average (and SD) monthly commercial landing values in the month of October from 2010 to 2014 was about $150,000 (SD = $330,000).
Some of the food businesses handling oyster products which are registered in MarketMaker are shown in the chart below. To view the entire list online, please click this LINK.
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Click Register and type your email address and a password in the spaces under Register. Be prepared to enter information (and pictures) about your business.
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MarketMaker Training Workshops
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