Biloxi–The devastation from Hurricane Katrina, the BP Oil Spill and the Mississippi River flood took a toll on the Magnolia state in many areas; the Mississippi oyster business is no exception.
Though signs of recovery are noticeable, there’s a long journey ahead before the industry sees anything close to the height of the business which was about a decade ago.
The latest reporting year for the oyster business ended on June 30. The Department of Marine Resources shows a collection of 78,000 sacks of oysters were brought in from the waters. This is a drastic improvement from the 65 collected back in 2012, after the Mississippi flood waters made their way into the Mississippi Sound from the Louisiana levee spillway opening in 2011. That influx of fresh water killed the oyster harvest that year. The BP oil spill also poisoned the oyster harvest; bringing it down from 306,000 sacks to only 44,000 sacks.
Oyster harvests are on the rise, but so are the prices. It’s because of the cost of refrigeration. Sean Desporte of Desporte Seafodd tells the Sun Herald that federal regulations require oysters to be either consumed raw or refrigerated within an hour of their catch. Before those new regulations, a 30 pound sack of oysters went for $20. Now it’s doubled at $40 for a Mississippi oyster harvest. In other places, they can range from $40 to $65, based on their quality.