GALVESTON - Oyster boat captains last year thought they were suffering through one of the worst years in decades for the Texas oyster industry as freshwater from heavy rains flooded Galveston Bay and killed oysters. This year is turning out to be much worse.

Galveston County Judge Mark Henry on Tuesday issued a disaster declaration for the Galveston Bay oyster industry, but the problem is not restricted to Galveston Bay. Persistent downpours throughout eastern Texas are swamping oyster beds with deadly freshwater all along the Texas Gulf Coast.

The surge of oyster-killing freshwater for the second straight year is the latest in a series of setbacks for the Texas oyster industry, which supplies about 30 percent of all oysters harvested in the Gulf of Mexico.

"These oyster farmers endured Hurricane Ike, algae, red tide, drought and now an influx of freshwater from flooding," Henry said. "My hope is that by making a declaration here, our state and federal partners can see that we're behind our small business owners during this difficult time."

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