Get them while you can: State reopens two oyster beds Friday

by Mary Tutwiler

Friday morning, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals reopened two oyster beds, one in Plaquemines Parish, the other in Lafourche, to give harvesters as much time as possible to harvest their product before any potential impact from the BP oil spill in the Gulf.

DHH officials continue to monitor the areas, as well as an entire 8-million acre area off the Louisiana shoreline. In addition to continued monitoring, oyster harvesters "taste test" the oysters as they are pulled from the water to make sure their product is good.

DHH Secretary Alan Levine and State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry on Thursday signed the orders to reopen areas 9 and 13, which takes effect at sunrise today. "Our people are monitoring all the beds on a daily basis," says Sec. Levine. "Decisions on precautionary closures and reopenings are based on a variety of factors, all of which are designed to protect the public and ensure the health of our seafood industry by ensuring only good, safe product is brought to market."

While 10 of the state's 28 oyster areas are closed, DHH says all of the oyster closures have been precautionary. No oil has tainted the beds so far.