MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG)— Oyster season is coming to a halt as all Alabama oyster harvest zones close at the end of the harvest day, Friday, January 21.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Marine Resources Division made the announcement in a news release that all public water bottoms will close to the harvest of oysters after a successful season.
With the cooperation of the Alabama Department of Public Health, MRD led commercial oystercatchers and seafood dealers to a successful harvest totaling near 4.25 million pounds throughout the course of the season.
Management zones were opened to harvest for a total of 80 days. Alabama’s Oyster Harvest exceeded all expectations from its start, October 4, 2021, to its finish this Friday.
According to MRD’s director, Scott Bannon, “The 2021-2022 harvest season was more productive than we anticipated.” Bannon shares the harvest doubled the previous season’s oyster harvest for the third year in a row.
The harvest season’s productivity came from a surplus of workers and an effective grid system. Since Mississippi could not open for harvest, several Mississippi harvesters trickled over to work in Alabama this season.
“Many of the harvesters who work in Mississippi were able to work in Alabama for several months. We had as many as 189 catchers on the reef in a single day, harvesting over 1,000 sacks per day. Utilizing our harvest grid system, we were able to monitor small areas and close them appropriately for sustainability while keeping harvesters working more days.”
The grid system is an asset for ensuring maximum opportunities for harvesters while minimizing the potential for overharvesting.
As the season ends, MRD continues to stride toward maintaining Alabama’s oyster reefs to guarantee oysters can be enjoyed for generations to come.