Fresh shucked oysters at an oyster bar in New Orleans, La. on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017.

Two Houma men were cited for harvesting oysters from St. Mary Parish waters that had been closed due to fecal bacteria contamination.

State wildlife agents cited Oscar Aguilar, 31, and Efrain Macedo-Aguilar, 26, on Wednesday after receiving a complaint about boats harvesting oysters in a polluted area near Point Au Fer Island.

According to the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, agents found the men had six sacks of oysters that their boat’s log indicated were harvested in an area that had been closed by state health officials due to high levels of fecal coliform bacteria. The cause is unclear, but common fecal bacteria sources include human and livestock feces and farm fertilizers.

Several hundred acres of the Louisiana coast are closed at any one time due to fecal pollution.

Agents seized the men’s harvesting gear and oysters, which were returned to the water.

Taking oysters from a polluted area carries a fine of up to $950 and 120 days in jail. 

This work is supported with a grant funded by the Walton Family Foundation and administered by the Society of Environmental Journalists.

Tristan Baurick: tbaurick@theadvocate.com; on Twitter: @tristanbaurick.