BATON ROUGE, La. (LOCAL 33) (FOX 44)- The seafood population in general has been in short supply since the Mississippi River and Atchafalaya Basin water levels swelled to unprecedented heights this year. But of all the marine life, it was oysters that took the biggest hit.
Oysters need a healthy mix of both salt and freshwater to thrive. Without it, their bodies cease to function properly. The swollen Atchafalaya Basin didn’t provide the proper mix and as a result a large number of oyster grounds were nearly wiped out. Now, restaurant owners are starting to feel the sting. A spokesperson for the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Patrick Banks said the lack of availability is making it hard on seafood restaurants.
“It’s been difficult very difficult for these reefs to recover especially after the BP spill just simply because we haven’t had four to five years of good stable conditions,” Banks said.
Even if waters inside the Mississippi and Atchafalaya basin have dropped significantly, the oysters would still need two to three years of calm waters to get oysters up to market size and get population numbers back up. Until then restaurant owners may have to look at other states, like Texas or Maine, to get oyster products.
A task force for the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries met Tuesday to discuss a possible solution for the problem. So far the department has considered aid from the federal government.