Mary Tutwiler

Oyster wars

by Mary Tutwiler

Here come the carpetbaggers again, only this time they’re from Texas. The Times-Picayune reports that Louisiana oystermen are complaining that Texas oyster boats are capitalizing on Louisiana’s public oyster reefs, potentially overfishing a resource that they say should belong to those with Bayou State licences. To rub salt in the wound, Texas bars Louisiana fishermen from fishing their waters though a 2005 ban on the sale of new oyster licenses. While a Louisiana state law prohibiting anyone with a fishing license purchased after May 2007 to fish Louisiana’s 2,500 square miles of public oyster reefs went into effect on January 1, the consequences, fishermen say, are keeping new Louisiana oystermen from making as living. The situation has been exacerbated since Hurricane Ike disrupted much of the oyster industry in Galveston Bay, sending Texans into waters just recovering from Hurricane Katrina. It’s not just the problem of the tight knit oystering communities of St. Bernard Parish, where many of the reefs and docks are located. Oystermen say with overfishing, the season will close sooner, limiting diner’s access to our favorite topless bivalve.