Oyster farmers see uptick in business ahead of Thanksgiving

Oyster dressing for Thanksgiving and Christmas? That's what many South Mississippians are planning for their holiday menus.
Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 3:23 PM CST
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Oyster dressing for Thanksgiving and Christmas? That’s what many South Mississippians are planning for their holiday menus.

Mike Arguelles and retired Colonel Joe Nastasi are heading out to do some off-bottom oyster farming just south of Deer Island in Biloxi. They’re working with French Hermit Oyster Company.

“This effort was made to launch a new industry, the off-bottom oyster aqua-culture,” Arguelles said. “They came to the south side of Deer Island because it has a long history of good quality water.”

In fact, since this started back in 2019, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources says more than 5 million seedlings, or spats, have been deployed in this area. And those spats have developed into more than 900,000 oysters. That’s as of August 2022.

They say off-bottom farming with cages protects those spats unlike traditional oyster reefs. A calm storm season and higher salinity levels also aid the process.

“We’ve had some good conditions recently, and also locally we haven’t had a lot of rain. Today, the salinity is 27. This is good for tasting oysters, since they’re usually eaten on the half shell,” Arguelles added.

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