Mississippi fishermen fear for dying oyster industry after flood spillways cause lack of salt water needed for survival
Over the years, the industry has been damaged by Hurricane Katrina, cheap imports, high gas prices and the perception Gulf oysters weren’t safe to eat because of the BP oil spill.
Now, the upcoming harvest season may be lost. Oysters, which thrive in salt water, are dying in large numbers because of the fresh water that poured in from spillways opened to take pressure off levees protecting cities from the rising Mississippi River this summer.
The oyster harvest, which usually runs from October to April, could be restricted or cancelled altogether to give the oysters a chance to recover.
‘Giving the entire reef a break for this season would be an option,’ said Joe Jewell, assistant director of fisheries for the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources.
The agency expects to make its recommendation next month; the final decision is with a five-member commission appointed by the governor to represent seafood processors, environmental organizations, charter boat operators and fishermen.
Oystermen, seafood processors and restaurants that cater to customers who enjoy the local catch are waiting in agony.
Jerry Forte, a Pass Christian seafood dealer who mainly sells shrimp and oysters to shops, said he won’t make any money if the oyster harvest is a wash.
‘You can’t survive on nothing,’ Mr Forte said. ‘Your bills still come in, but you don’t make no money.’
Jennifer Jenkins, a manager at Crystal Seas Oysters in Pass Christian, which processes oysters and supplies them to restaurants, said her business was already off roughly 25 per cent.
And the company is still fighting for money from the fund set up by BP PLC to compensate victims of last year’s oil spill.
‘We haven’t had a normal year here since Katrina,’ Ms Jenkins said. The hurricane struck on August 29, 2005, wiping out vast stretches of the Mississippi coast in addition to the horrific damage done to New Orleans.
The Cherubs have used the fierce weather patterns they’ve created to devastate and cause crop failures that will cause widespread disease from the polluted waters and will not only bring higher prices for corn and other drowned crops, but soon it will be impossible to even buy what is in short supply.
In Iowa and Missouri the underground water aquifers are polluted with oil bi-products as well as fertilizers and human waste. Soon, it will reach an epidemic state as the Cherubs bring even more disaster to the grain producing and fruit producing states in the USA as they are hit with ever increasing severe catastrophes.
What the U.S. government is not telling people, is that the animals who’ve survived the flood conditions are at risk from the tainted water supply every bit as much as the human populous.