AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas oyster season will open Nov. 1, but due to health risks there will be several areas closed to harvest. Recent heavy rains statewide and red tide events on the lower Texas coast prompted the Texas Department of State Health Services to issue closure notices for some shellfish harvesting areas, including the Galveston Bay area.
In addition to the delay, East Galveston Bay will remain closed for two years to bolster oyster reef recovery from Hurricane Ike damage.
Oystermen are reminded closure violations now carry stiffer penalties as a result of actions taken during the 80th Legislature to further deter harvest of oysters in closed waters. New laws require that everyone on board a harvesting vessel in violation of a closure be charged instead of only the vessel captain. The penalty is a fine of not less than $500 or more than $4,000 and up to a year in jail or both.
Texas game wardens patrol the state’s bays and estuaries to protect consumers by ensuring that oysters are not harvested from unapproved areas that could be a health risk.
Specific area closures can be obtained by contacting the Texas Department of State Health Services at 800-685-0361 or any TPWD coastal area office. On the Net: http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/seafood/