The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will reopen the oyster season in designated portions of the Public Oyster Seed Grounds for bedding purposes only. This will allow limited harvest of the resource prior to potential oyster mortality as a result of the opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway and the high flow of the Atchafalaya River. Harvestable quantities of oyster resources exist in these public oyster seed grounds, and with the influx of freshwater, a potential decrease in salinity levels may result in significant oyster mortalities.
The season will reopen for bedding purposes in the Public Oyster Seed Grounds in Lake Borgne (St. Bernard Parish), a portion of Mississippi Sound (St. Bernard Parish) and a portion of the Atchafalaya Bay (St. Mary Parish) Public Oyster Seed Grounds, within areas designated by the Louisiana Department of Health Areas 1, 2, and 25. This opening is for bedding purposes only and will begin at one half-hour after sunrise on Thursday, March 14, 2019, and will close at one half-hour after sunset on Saturday, March 16, 2019.
The following areas will open:
- The Public Oyster Seed Grounds west of longitudinal line 89 degrees 28 minutes 00.000 seconds W., within the areas of LDH Harvest Area 1 and 2 west of the longitudinal line
- A portion of the Vermilion/East and West Cote Blanche Bay/Atchafalaya Bay Public Oyster Seed Grounds, as described in LAC 76:VII.507 and LAC 76:VII.509 within Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) Area 25 currently open for harvest of oysters for market sales
The special bedding-only season described above will open with the following provisions:
- For the areas currently designated as “closed” by LDH, the following rules shall follow: The area is opening to allow for the permitted transplant or relay, of live oysters for bedding purposes only. Oysters may only be transplanted from the area within the public oyster seed grounds described above which are currently closed by the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH). All individuals found harvesting in this area must possess a valid LDH Oyster Transplant Permit.
- For the areas designated as “open” according to LDH: these areas are currently open for market size harvest, and no permit is needed.
The following provisions apply to all harvesters during the special bedding season:
- A vessel is limited to either harvesting market oysters for direct sale (sacking) or harvesting seed oysters for bedding purposes on any one day and is specifically prohibited from doing both.
- If any person on a vessel takes or attempts to take oysters from the Public Oyster Seed Grounds described above, all oysters contained on that vessel shall be deemed to have been taken from said seed ground or reservation from the time harvest begins until all oysters are off-loaded dockside.
- The harvest of seed oysters from a Public Oyster Seed Ground or reservation shall be for the purpose of moving the live oyster resource. The removal of more than 15 percent of non-living reef material in bedding loads is prohibited. All vessels shall allow on-board inspection and sampling of seed oyster loads by LDWF biologists and/or agents.
- No oyster harvester who is actively harvesting oysters for bedding in the Public Oyster Seed Grounds described above shall have onboard his vessel any sacks or containers which may be used to hold oysters for transport to market. Harvesters shall be limited to either harvesting market oysters for direct sale (sacking) or harvesting seed oysters for bedding purposes on any one day and is specifically prohibited from doing both.
- No harvester shall sell, or transport with his vessel, oysters intended for market sales on the same day that he/she harvested seed oysters from the public seed grounds described above.
- Any individual actively harvesting oysters in the Public Oyster Seed Grounds designated as “closed” by LDH shall be properly permitted for such transplant by LDH in accordance with the state sanitary code.
The Commission authorized Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Secretary Jack Montoucet to take emergency action to close areas on an as-needed basis based on biological data or if enforcement problems are encountered. The Secretary was also authorized to take emergency action to reopen areas previously closed if the threat to the resource has ended and to open areas if substantial oyster resources are located.
Public notice of any opening, delay, or closure of a season will be provided at least 72 hours prior to such action, unless such closure is ordered by the Louisiana Department of Health for public health concerns.
For more information, please contact Carolina Bourque at (337) 735-8726 or via email at [email protected].
Applications for transplant permits may be obtained between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, please contact the Louisiana Department of Health, Molluscan Shellfish Program at (225) 342-7653.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana’s abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us atwww.wlf.la.gov. To receive email alerts, signup at http://www.wlf.la.gov/signup.