Oysters play a vital role in our ecosystems, our recreational fisheries and our communities. Alongside an entire team of marine biologists and a stellar film crew – CCA, Mossy Oak and AFTCO have put together a short film highlighting the importance of our oyster reefs and the critters that call them home.
More boats are currently active in the fishery than the resource can support, causing the available harvest to be quickly exploited and habitat values significantly diminished.
Texas oyster reefs are a critical component of the natural landscape, providing important services for our bay systems and coastline.
The value and services oyster reefs provide are undeniable. Oyster reefs…
- Are critical in determining current, acting as baffles slowing water surges and stemming shoreline erosion
- Are a seed source for adjacent reefs
- Serve as habitat for hundreds of aquatic species
- Provide recreational fishing opportunities
- Offer other numerous ecosystem services with ecological benefits far greater than the harvest value
While resilient, the oyster fishery has limitations and we must be proactive in our efforts to improve its sustainability and promote reef growth.
Improving the Sustainability of our Texas Oyster Fishery
We need to prioritize the ecological and structural value of oysters in the water including safeguarding existing reefs and creating new ones.
Solutions to healthy and sustainable Texas oyster fishery include…
- Promote and increase participation in the license buyback program
- Expand the state bay-bottom lease program (certificate of location) for commercial oystermen
- Create opportunities for non-harvestable bay-bottom conservation leases
- Promote increased participation in cultivated oyster mariculture (oyster farming)
- Designate sanctuary reefs in bay systems to serve as spawning reserves for public reefs
- Refine metrics for opening and closing shellfish harvest areas
- Develop and execute strategic restoration plans
The oyster is so much more than just a fishery; it is a crucial foundational component of our bays’ ecosystem – healthy oyster reefs mean a strong and sustainable coastline now and in the future.
Texas Oyster Updates
“We are excited to make this announcement and would like to thank our members, volunteers, sponsors and industry partners for their continued support.”
CCA Texas and Tito’s Handmade Vodka recently teamed up to add an additional five reef beds in the Goose Island State Park Big Tree Unit Living Shoreline project.
CCA Texas believes it’s imperative that the management of our Texas oyster fishery continues to evolve by prioritizing the ecological and structural value of oysters in the water by safeguarding existing reefs and creating new ones.
While conservationists recently celebrated news that three threatened bay systems would be closed to oyster harvest, concerns remained that other areas would inevitably bear the brunt of intense commercial harvest.
Yesterday, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (Commission) adopted the proposed changes to the statewide oyster fishery proclamation, which included the closure of oyster reef areas in Ayres, Mesquite and Carlos Bays (three bays), and the temporary closure of restoration areas in Galveston Bay and San Antonio Bay.
Carlos Reef is an important part of the habitat along the Texas coast. This was once a continuous structure from San Jose Island to Bloodworth Island. Now it serves as weakened baffle structure. It is important to maintain this reef to preserve its integrity, which is integral to the health of our fishery and the ecosystem as a whole.
Second Chain of Islands is a little more difficult to track because it is so fragmented from the passage of time, years of harvest, and the forces of nature.
Ayers Reef is one of the last 2 remaining intact barrier reefs. It is the first to accept the force of water coming out of San Antonio Bay and Espritu Santu since the Second Chain of Islands has been so greatly diminished. It must be saved through a sanctuary program.