Oyster Harvesting Closed Along Portions of Texas Coast
AUSTIN, November 1, 2015 - The Texas Department of State Health Services announced today that commercial and recreational oyster harvesting in most areas of Texas coastal waters will be closed on Nov. 1 due to excessive rainfall or red tide, depending on the area. Normally, the public can harvest oysters from Nov. 1 through April 30.
Christmas Bay and certain areas of Galveston Bay will be open for oyster harvesting on Nov. 1. All other areas along the coast will be closed to commercial and recreational harvesting of oysters, clams and mussels until further notice.
Red tide has been detected along the Texas coastline from Matagorda Bay to South Padre Island. Elevated or excessive rainfall has also contributed to the closure of oyster harvesting in some of these areas and in portions of Galveston Bay.
DSHS is advising people not to harvest and eat oysters, clams, mussels or whelks taken from these waters. While visual signs of red tide have not been seen lately in some areas, the toxin produced by the red tide algae can remain in the edible tissue of shellfish for several weeks to several months. The toxins can cause neurotoxic shellfish poisoning, or NSP, in humans who consume them. NSP symptoms can include nausea, dizziness, dilated pupils and tingling sensations in the extremities.
Oysters taken from waters closed due to elevated or excessive rainfall can be contaminated with bacteria and viruses and consuming them can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
Oysters being sold in the current market place are not affected. The warning does not apply to other types of seafood such as shrimp, finfish, crabs or to commercial seafood products from other states or countries.
DSHS will continue testing in the closed areas and will open areas to harvesting when it is safe to do so. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department also has authority to close areas to oyster harvesting based on oyster size and availability. To determine the current status of shellfish harvesting areas call the DSHS 24-hour harvesting information line, 1-800-685-0361, for updates. Harvesters are encouraged to get shellfish harvesting maps from the nearest Texas Parks and Wildlife Department office or DSHS at www.dshs.state.tx.us/seafood/shellfish-harvest-maps.aspx.