Weather causing issues early as the 2023 oyster harvesting season gets underway

Public reefs have been open all week to all commercial and recreational catchers
Published: Oct. 4, 2023 at 10:43 AM CDT
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DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. (WALA) - Public reefs have been open all week to all commercial and recreational catchers. All as the 2023 oyster harvesting season opens up. But it’s been tough so far due to the weather.

“The east side and the east wind blows. It gets rough on all of these little boats,” Harry Harris said.

“If you look out here now, it’s calm because there’s a barb between us and the deep water. So It’s calm here. As soon as you get out around the point out there where it’s deep where we work, the waves are probably going to be two feet. Two to three feet,” Jim Stewart said.

Leaving crews to sit out the first few days due to safety concerns. Meaning these waters are a little emptier than usual.

“We have not had the participation on the public reef that we normally have. Last year we would’ve had almost 200 boats out here. This year, we’re averaging about 15 boats per day,” Director Scott Bannon with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said.

It’s rough now, but as the season continues, it’s expected to get better. And luckily for catchers, the oysters aren’t going anywhere.

“They’re working on the eastern side of the area that is available to harvest. On the Mobile Bay side. We call it Cedar Point east. Even when the weather is favorable, the water is deeper. The current runs a little harder. It’s a much more difficult area to work. Over the next few weeks, we’ll open up other areas to harvest that are more protected and more available to those smaller boats. And again, they’ll have more opportunities to go and harvest,” Bannon said.

And just a reminder, commercial and recreational catchers can only go out from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.