The head of the group representing the state's oyster fishermen says oyster harvests in waters reopened last week, four years after the BP oil spill, are so far below average.

Byron Encalade, President of the Louisiana Oystermen Association, says the size of the harvests this past week tell him it's going to take time for those oyster beds to recover.

"They found a few oysters, but overall, it may help but it's at a time of the year where oyster quality is kinda low because of the meat contents," Encalade said.

The Associated Press reports oyster harvests along the Gulf Coast have declined dramatically in the four years since the BP oil spill.

Even after a slight rebound last year, thousands of acres of Louisiana oyster beds are producing less than a third of what they did before the nation's worst offshore oil disaster.

Louisiana used to produce one-third of the nation's oyster harvest — up to 7 million pounds of meat a year. The total haul in 2012 was barely half a million pounds, and last year was back up to almost 1 million.

Whether the spill from a BP PLC well contributed to the decline is part of an ongoing study. The oyster industry had already been under stress before the spill from hurricanes, overfishing and two straight years of oyster-killing fresh water.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)