Today, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission set the 2012/2013 oyster seasons based on oyster stock assessments provided by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologists and comments received from members of the public, including the oyster industry.
The following opening dates were set for the upcoming oyster season:
The Little Lake Public Oyster Seed Grounds and the Vermilion/East and West Cote Blanche/Atchafalaya Bay Public Oyster Seed Grounds will open at one-half hour before sunrise on Wednesday, September 5, 2012.
All remaining public oyster seed grounds and reservations will open at one-half hour before sunrise on Monday, October 29, 2012, except for the Bay Gardene and Sister Lake Public Oyster Seed Reservations, which will remain closed. The area of the public grounds east of the Mississippi River and south of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet will be restricted to the harvest of market sacks only, and no seed oyster harvest will be allowed.
The oyster season in the west cove portion of the Calcasieu Lake Public Oyster Area (DHH Harvest Area 30) will open at one-half hour before sunrise on Thursday, November 1, 2012. The sack limit during this time period is set at 10 sacks per person, per vessel, per day.
In addition to closures in Bay Gardene and Sister Lake, the 2011 clutch plants in Mississippi Sound and California Bay and the 2012 cultch plant in Hackberry Bay will remain closed. The east side of Calcasieu Lake (DHH Harvest Area 29) and the Sabine lake Public Oyster Area will also remain closed for the entire 2012/13 oyster season.
Closure dates will be determined by LDWF Secretary Barham on an “as needed” basis, based on biological and harvest data, or if enforcement issues are encountered. The Secretary is 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 and Hospitals for public health concerns.