Multiple Areas Closed to Oyster Harvest in Five Texas Bays
AUSTIN, November 1, 2016 – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is closing designated Approved and Conditionally Approved Areas in four Texas bays to all oyster harvest effective Tuesday, Nov. 1, due to low abundance of oysters in these areas. Copano Bay will close on Saturday, Nov. 5.
Areas affected by the closure include:
These closures are based on samples collected by the TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division in September and October and after consultation with the department’s Oyster Advisory Workgroup, a stakeholder group comprised of Texas commercial oyster fishermen and dealers.
Under state law, TPWD has the authority to implement emergency closure to oyster harvesting when it can be shown that an area is being overworked or damaged. TPWD and the Oyster Advisory Workgroup have established criteria based on the abundance of market-sized oysters (3 inches and larger) and the percentage of small oysters (2-2.9 inches) for determining when an area should be closed.
TPWD sampling during the last two months found conditions in these areas did not meet the criteria for opening. This closure is designed to provide some protection to undersize oysters so they can reach legal sizes. The closed areas will be monitored by TPWD and will reopen when criteria thresholds are met.
Approved and Conditionally Approved areas not listed above will remain open to oyster harvest Monday through Saturday under a 40 sack per day limit, however, other areas may also be closed for human health and safety purposes by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). Oystermen are urged to check the DSHS toll-free number (800-685-0361) for updated information on openings and closures. Maps showing closed areas can also be found on the DSHS web site http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/seafood/default.aspx.