Oyster Harvest zones to close Jan. 19

Published 12:31 pm Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Pursuant to Section 9-12-28, Code of Alabama 1975 as stated by Rule 220-3-.02, the Marine Resources Division (MRD) of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) announces that all public water bottoms will close to the harvest of oysters at 2 p.m. on Friday, January 19, 2024.

Summary of Alabama’s Oyster Harvest
Alabama’s public oyster reefs opened for harvest on October 2, 2023, and will close for the season at the end of the harvest day on Friday, January 19, 2024. The cooperation between MRD, the Alabama Department of Public Health, commercial oyster catchers and seafood dealers continues to move the oyster resources in Alabama in a positive direction.

After the closure on Friday January 19, 2024, management zones will have been open to harvest for 75 days. During that time, more than 32,000 sacks of oysters will have been harvested totaling almost 2.7 million pounds with an approximate dockside value of more than $1.2 million.

“This season has been very successful and built on the successes of the previous four years,” said Scott Bannon, MRD Director. We anticipated the number of sacks harvested to be similar to last season but we did have some mortality on the reef from oyster drills, a predatory snail that thrives when salinity levels are higher. Harvester participation was lower than last year with an average of 83 per day compared to 164 for the 2022 season. Harvest averaged 460 sacks per day which is approximately 39,000 pounds of oysters per day.

“Utilizing our harvest grid system, we were able to monitor small areas and appropriately close them for sustainability, while keeping harvesters working more days in other locations. Accurate harvest reporting was a vital part of the season’s length. I appreciate the reporting efforts of the harvesters and the efforts of our staff to effectively monitor and manage the season. The dockside price paid per pound of oysters was more variable than last year but harvesters were able to harvest and sell their catch for a profit which is beneficial to the families and the local economy.”

MRD continues to utilize several new survey techniques to assist with developing pre-season harvest estimates and work toward restoring and maintaining Alabama’s oyster reefs so that oysters can be enjoyed for generations to come.

ADCNR promotes wise stewardship, management, and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through four divisions: Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. Learn more at www.outdooralabama.com.