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The Problem:

Our Texas Oyster Fishery is Overcapitalized

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.

We have witnessed excessive loss of previously wadable reefs in Galveston Bay, Matagorda Bay, San Antonio Bay, Mesquite Bay, Carlos Bay, Aransas Bay and Copano Bay.

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.

Our Solutions:

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.

Photo Courtesy of John Blaha

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.

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Texas Oyster Updates