The high water in January that shut down the oyster season in Alabama has finally subsided, and the oyster catchers were recently cleared to resume the harvest of the state’s prized oysters by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH).
This may not seem like big news for some, but it is great news considering the uncertainty of whether Alabama’s oyster reefs would be open at all.
The area known as Cedar Point West, just west of the Dauphin Island bridge and Cedar Point Pier, opened Tuesday, February 4, to commercial and recreational harvest of oysters. Harvest hours will be 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. with a commercial limit of six sacks.
“There were some oysters that were not detected during our survey, but while the oyster catchers were working, they found a pretty sizeable area of harvestable oysters,” said Alabama Marine Resources Division (MRD) Director Scott Bannon. “So we’re going to give them the opportunity to work in that area.”
Oyster harvesting had been shut down because of a lack of legal-size oysters on the traditional oyster reefs. MRD surveyed the Cedar Point West, Cedar Point East and Heron Bay reefs again and found the oyster population better than expected.
“Those areas were as productive or more productive than we anticipated,” Bannon said. “Cedar Point East was an area that we did not have good data on because it is so big and the water is deeper with some other challenges there. But the catchers worked there for a couple of weeks and harvested just over 2,500 sacks. In addition to the harvestable oysters, they discovered a lot of sublegal oysters, which will be available for harvest next season.
“On the other reefs at Cedar Point West and Heron Bay, they saw the same thing. They found good, harvestable-size