Texas oyster harvesters push back against potential closures of some Gulf bays

Workers argue closures hurt their livelihood, but Texas Parks and Wildlife say closures are necessary to replenish oyster beds.

By Kristen Cabrera & Addie CostelloMarch 9, 2022 2:45 pm,

Texas Parks and Wildlife is considering closing several bays in Galveston County, along the Gulf Coast, to protect oyster beds there the agency says aren’t ready yet to be harvested. But oyster workers say closing those bays negatively impacts their livelihood and industry.

Keri Heath, reporter for the Galveston County Daily News, tells Texas Standard more about the challenges oyster harvesters are facing and the possible effects of bay closures.

Listen to the interview with Heath in the audio player above or read the highlights below:

– Oyster bays could close now that Texas Parks and Wildlife determined the area’s oyster population needs more time to replenish from previous harvests. The agency determines that by monitoring the size of oysters and the density of oyster beds.

– Texas’ oyster industry took a series of hits in 2017 after Hurricane Harvey. The hurricane dumped fresh water into the Gulf of Mexico affecting its salinity – something to which oysters are very sensitive. Multiple bays closed as a result.

– Oyster harvesters argue the closure of more bays will not help replenish oyster populations. They say closures will only increase harvesting in the areas that are open, and could damage those populations.

– Many oyster workers in Galveston County are concerned that more closures could cost them their jobs. There is no clear timeline for when bays would reopen if they’re closed.

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