MOBILE, Ala. -- Oyster harvesting in Alabama waters will be prohibited for four months every year starting in May to protect the state's reefs.
In a further restriction, only one of the state's reefs will be open at a time when the season starts in May.
The Mobile Press-Register reports that the changes are part of a plan that state officials say will impose order on the oyster harvest and protect dwindling reefs. The state's oyster harvest was worth $3 million in 2005 but plummeted to almost $77,000 in 2009.
Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner Barnett Lawley said the new rules try to make sure oyster beds aren't pilfered. He said the plans call for creating check stations that oystermen must visit after each morning's harvest.