Public Hearing On Basket Dredging Set For May 28

BILOXI, MS (AP) — The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources will hold a public hearing May 28 on the use of basket dredges for oyster harvesting.

         The Commission on Marine Resources is expected to vote June 16 on a proposal to ban the use of basket dredges to harvest oysters.

         A basket dredge, also known as a "self-dumping dredge," uses a rigid framed basket, instead of a flexible bag made out of rope or chain, to retain the harvested oysters.

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         Some fishermen say the heavier basket dredge is damaging oyster reefs.

         MDMR officials say an estimated 20 to 30 percent of oystermen in Mississippi use the basket dredges.

         The commission also may consider reducing the weight of dredges from the current 140 pounds to 115 pounds, which was the limit before 1997.

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