BILOXI, Miss. — A much-reduced Mississippi oyster season opens Monday.

The state Commission on Marine Resources says only 10,000 sacks of oysters may be harvested this year, down from 35,000 last year. Commissioners last month approved the cut, with department staff telling WLOX-TV that Mississippi’s stressed reefs need time to rebuild.

Monday’s opening applies to Biloxi Bay, which will be harvested for the second year after having been closed since 1964. Reefs around Pass Christian open Nov. 13.

While oystermen will still be able to harvest 15 sacks daily by tonging, those using dredges will only be able to take 20 sacks daily, down from 25 last year.

In 2004, Mississippi produced nearly 500,000 sacks of oysters.

Department officials say they’re working to replenish oysters, but say shellfish take time to grow.

Information from: WLOX-TV,

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