Oyster Beds Re-open in Eastern Louisiana
LIANE HANSEN, host:
Last Sunday, in our story from Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, we visited with the men and women who work at Motivatit Seafoods, an oyster harvesting and processing company in the city of Houma. Mike Voisin, the CEO at Motivatit, told us that the oyster beds along the Gulf Coast east of the Mississippi River would be opened this past week for the first time since Hurricane Katrina hit in late August. Mike is with us again.
Welcome back. Good to talk to you again.
Mr. MIKE VOISIN (CEO, Motivatit Seafoods): It's good to be with you, Liane.
HANSEN: All right, what's the word from the beds east of the river?
Mr. VOISIN: Well, we're finding what we expected to find. We are finding that some areas have oysters depending on, you know, if they were behind an island or where they were positioned. We're finding some oysters there and there's a good crop coming in. They're actually a pretty high quality oyster with good oyster meat in them. They look healthy and good. We've sent boats out throughout the area and we're finding that the closer we get to Mississippi and that area, the more damage that was done. The closer we get to kind of the boot where the river kind of goes down to the mouth of the river of Louisiana, the less amount of damage was done.
HANSEN: Give me a percentage number.
Mr. VOISIN: We're still looking at about 70 percent to 75 percent mortality in those areas. But again, as I've said, you know, when you have a lot, if you lose 70 percent, you still have 30 percent. So there's still quite a bit of production there. This is a 12-day kind of a snapshot picture that the state can use to say, `OK, what are we going to do from here?' And probably after the first of the year, they'll analyze and reopen those areas and extend the season.
HANSEN: Mm-hmm. How long do you think it'll take for the beds to come back to normal?
Mr. VOISIN: Well, I think we're looking at a two- to three-year process, and, you know, we're looking to do the debris removal that we've talked about, the culch planting, putting that larvae in there from hatcheries around the country and around the world to be able to jump start Mother Nature that's so good to us anyway. Once we get those dollars to be able to accomplish that, we're going to be moving forward and accomplishing it. So it's going to take two to three years to get back to 100--well, maybe as high as four to five years to get to 100 percent in that area. The state as a whole in four to five years will produce more than it has in the past few years because we're developing that western side of the state as we've previously discussed.
HANSEN: So are there oysters for Christmas?
Mr. VOISIN: There are oysters for Christmas. That is the good news. There are oysters. They're going out by the truckload. Not as many truckloads as normal. Not as many oysters as normal. But they are available. Prices are going to be up as we've discussed in the past, but they are available and we're doing all that we can. You know, Mother Nature--now we're getting some cold fronts which inhibits a little bit of the harvest. But Mother Nature has taken away something from us that we're going to work hard to get back again.
HANSEN: Mike Voisin is CEO of Motivatit Seafoods in Houma, Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, and he spoke to us from his office. Mike, thanks a lot.
Mr. VOISIN: Thank you, Liane.
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