Oyster season isn't sailing smoothly at new Pass Harbor, seafood dealer says

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PASS CHRISTIAN, Mississippi — Seafood dealers say you can't beat the view at the new Pass Christian Harbor, but business is off to a rocky start.

Seafood dealer Darlene Kimball tells The Sun Herald (http://bit.ly/1vg4pMt ) the process for an oysterman to transfer his catch from water to land can take up to five times as long as is it did at the old harbor, because oyster-checking protocol still has to be performed at the old harbor location.

Before the move, Kimball, who owns Kimball's Seafood, said she would have oysters paid for and off the boat within five to 10 minutes of boats coming in from the reefs.

"Sometimes it takes 30 to 40 minutes before I get oysters off a boat," Kimball said.

Although dealers were relocated to the new harbor, the Department of Marine Resources oyster check station is still in the old harbor. The $1 million Col. George J. Wright Sr. building was built in 2012. DMR moved in October, said spokeswoman Melissa Scallan.

Before oystermen venture to reefs to tong or dredge for the day, they must get an oyster harvest notification slip. When they return to dock to unload and sell their catch, crews must first go into the old harbor and to get oyster sacks tagged.

Scallan said tongers are allowed to tag seven sacks per day, and those who dredge are allowed to tag 10 sacks.

"You are limited by number of sacks. We have to keep track of them. We issue oyster tags for each sack and oyster trip tickets for each trip so we can track the movement of oysters better. We collect a fee, called a shell retention fee, on each sack of oysters removed from the reef," Scallan said.

Once the sacks are tagged, oysterman have to venture out into the water again and take their catch to the new harbor.

Kimball said she isn't a fan of the long wait.

"I can't see who just came in, how many sacks (they have), if they're selling to us ... I won't know what they're bringing me until they pull up at my wall," she said.

Transporting oysters to two different locations before they are sold is a hassle for crews and dealers, Kimball said.


Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com

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