As reported recently, a substantial mussel die-off occurred during July from Wilson Dam downstream to the upper end, or head, of Seven Mile Island. This reach of river is restricted from mussel fishing for commercial purposes through Alabama Regulation 220-2-.52. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources allowed temporary access into the restricted area for the purpose of collecting commercial mussel shells earlier this month. This was a successful undertaking and resulted in no biological harm to the surviving mollusks within the restricted area.
Mussel sampling conducted since that limited harvest revealed that there is enough commercial mussel shell left to warrant an additional three days of temporary access. Therefore, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announces that it will allow temporary access into the restricted area for the purpose of collecting commercial mussel shells on August 29, 30 and 31, 2006. Guidelines will be the same as previously described. No live mussels may be collected.
Additional guidelines are as follows:
1. Authorized daily time: 6 a.m. until 3 p.m.
2. Access to and from the restricted area for commercial mussel harvest is only by way of McFarland Boat Ramp.
3. Only existing legal commercial mussel species can be taken.
4. Shells must comply with current minimum size requirements.
5. No tissue may be visible on the shells.
6. For safety purposes, each mussel diver is required to have another person in the boat while diver is submerged.
Conservation officers and biologists will monitor the harvest to ensure that federally protected species are not taken and guidelines are being properly followed. If you have any questions, contact the District I Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division Office at 256-353-2634.