Eastern oysters are naturally found in clump-like structures that form reef habitats in shallow, semi-enclosed estuaries along coastlines. They are capable of withstanding fluctuations in both temperature and salinity found in nearshore habitats. These reef habitats offer refuge for crucial prey fish and invertebrates, leading to higher species abundance compared to adjacent mudflats. Oyster reefs can control phytoplankton populations through water filtration, helping mitigate eutrophication. They also provide ample protection to adjacent shorelines from erosion.

Mississippi oyster reefs are fished by either towing a dredge or using tongs. Dredges are usually constructed from a heavy steel frame with teeth and a metal chain that forms a bag behind. These dredges are then dragged behind a boat over a reef. Tong fishing is conducted with a pair of stainless-steel rakes with long handles that are used to pluck oysters from the seabed. All the contents caught are brought on board then sorted through for legal-size oysters.

The MDMR has the ability to allow harvest on state-owned reefs each year. The MDMR will release opening and closing orders to local news companies at the start and end of each harvest season.


MDMR is currently updating the on-bottom leasing process to incorporate the amendments recently passed in Senate Bill 2544. Once the finalization is complete, MDMR staff will update this page to reflect all the relevant changes. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we strive to enhance the on-bottom leasing process to better serve your needs. Should you have any specific inquiries or require further assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our staff at