2017 Mississippi Code
Title 49 - Conservation and Ecology
Chapter 15 - Seafood
Article 1 - General Provisions
§ 49-15-36. Oyster reefs and bottoms; rotating opening; closing of oyster reefs; special permits for taking oysters during closed season; depuration
- (1) The commission shall have full jurisdiction and control of all public and natural oyster reefs and oyster bottoms of the State of Mississippi. The commission may delegate this authority to the executive director of the department.
- (2) Public reefs may be opened for harvest of oysters during the season on a rotating basis. If the commission determines that a particular reef has been over-harvested or that a high percentage of sublegal size oysters exist on a particular reef and that harvest could damage future oyster crops, the commission may close designated reef areas and keep them closed during the season.
- (3) The commission shall promulgate regulations regarding the closing of oyster reefs to protect the public health. When that testing indicates the oysters on the closed reef are suitable for consumption, the reef shall be opened for the taking of oysters as soon as notice of that opening may be made to interested parties. The authority to open or close oyster reefs under this chapter shall be solely within the discretion of the commission, acting through the department. The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory or other certified laboratory shall cooperate with the department and shall conduct necessary tests to determine the condition of oyster reefs at the request of the department. The department may limit the sale of oysters for human consumption, but all matters concerning the harvesting of oysters shall be within the jurisdiction of the commission.
- (4) (a) The commission may issue special permits for the purpose of catching oysters outside the open season or in areas not normally open to harvest to those nonprofit organizations that are tax exempt under Section 501(c) of the United States Internal Revenue Code and which have on file with the Department of Revenue a tax exemption letter issued by the United States Internal Revenue Service.
- (b) The commission shall promulgate rules and regulations governing the taking of oysters by the nonprofit organization and shall issue such regulations to all organizations upon request and at the issuance of the special permit.
- (5) The commission shall establish a reasonable period of time for depuration of oysters replanted from restricted waters. That period of time shall be consistent with the maintenance of the public health and may vary from time to time and from one reef to another in accordance with environmental conditions.
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