Economy

Mississippi River flooding may wipe out oysters

BILOXI — As record amounts of freshwater head down the Mississippi River toward the Mississippi Sound, the oyster industry can expect to face extreme losses, an official with the Department of Marine Resources said Tuesday.

“In the western Mississippi Sound, the oyster industry will take a devastating hit,” Scott Gordon, director of the Shellfish Bureau, Office of Marine Fisheries, said after a meeting of the Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources in Biloxi.

Oysters will be hit hard because they’re a stationary species; shrimp, finfish and crabs, which are mobile, are expected to be able to move ahead of freshwater entering the salty waters of the Sound, and the effect on the adults should be minimal, he said.

“There will be more mortality in the larval stages and the young unable to escape,” Gordon said.

“There will be 100 percent mortality of oysters,” he said. “Oysters can’t move from the freshwater, and they will be most at risk.”

Other waters in South Mississippi could see an impact from the floodwaters coming down the Mississippi River.

“The freshwater streams here could get invasive species,” Gordon said.

They include Asian carp, such as bighead, silver and grass; cichlids, including Rio Grande and Nile tilapia; and mollusks such as apple snails and zebra mussels.

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