Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has announced that the Texas oyster season will begin on November 1, 2018 and close on April 20, 2019. The following shellfish harvest areas will be closed for the season opener:
In Galveston Bay, TX-1 and TX-4. In East Matagorda Bay, TX-11 and TX-12. In Matagorda/Lavaca Bay, TX-16, TX-18 and TX-21. In San Antonio Bay, TX-26 and TX-27. Click here to view the maps of shellfish harvest areas.
“Sampling results indicate the number of legal oysters is very limited in these areas,” says TPWD’s Coastal Fisheries Deputy Director Lance Robinson. “This closure is designed to provide some protection to undersize oysters so they can reach legal sizes. The areas will be closely monitored by TPWD and will reopen when criteria thresholds are met.”
Once an area is closed, it typically takes 2 years for the reefs to recover and meet criteria thresholds established by TPWD and the Oyster Advisory Workgroup. TPWD is seeing numerous positive benefits from House Bill 51 and Department Regulations that were passed last year. “Decreasing the percentage of undersized oysters allowed on a vessel (from 15% to 5%) and increasing penalties for possession of undersized oysters (Class B for multiple violations) has forced the oyster industry to return more shell and small oysters back to the reefs,” says CCA Texas Advocacy Director Shane Bonnot. “TPWD enforcement efforts and industry cooperation of these new regulations have ultimately secured a 2018-2019 season in many shellfish harvest areas that would otherwise be closed.