Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) states that the Texas commercial and recreational public oyster harvest season opens on Nov. 1 and will close on April 30, 2024, in an effort to protect and restore oyster reefs showing signs of environmental stress. Many shellfish harvest areas will remain closed to fishing at the beginning of this season.

Executive Director of TPWD, David Yoskowitz, Ph.D., says in a news release, “Working in partnership with stakeholders, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department continues to prioritize the importance of healthy oyster reefs for both commercial and recreational fishing.”

The areas that TPWD will open have a high abundance of legal-sized oysters and will be an attempt to distribute the commercial oyster fleet over other areas.

“Maintaining a healthy and sustainable oyster fishery is more important than ever, and opening the oyster season will allow commercial oystering an opportunity to work some reefs while allowing other reefs time to recover. Legislation passed earlier this year will expand the opportunities for the commercial oyster industry and the crucial restoration of natural oyster beds,” says Yoskowitz.

Conditions through the summer were not as conducive for oyster growth as TPWD would have liked to see, and the greater abundance of oysters would have allowed for more areas to be open. Robin Riechers, Director of Coastal Fisheries at TPWD, shares. They will continue to pursue restoration to let the wild oyster populations increase for commercial purposes, and the ecological benefits oysters provide. The TPWD team will continue to sample open harvest areas and close zones that drop below the recommended metrics to allow reef recovery.

TPWD code allows for emergency closure of reefs to oyster harvest if there is evidence of the area being overworked. Closing is based on samples collected by TPWD showing low catch rates of the legal-sized, harvestable product.

The interactive map showing the shellfish harvest areas can be found on the Department of State Health Services website. Of the 28 shellfish harvest areas along the coast of Texas, 23 will remain closed at the start of the public oyster season.

The shellfish harvesting areas that will be open to public harvest beginning November 1 are as follows:

Galveston Bay

  • TX-1
  • TX-2
  • TX-5
  • TX-8

Matagorda Bay

  • TX-11
  • TX-13

Corpus Christi Bay

  • TX-33

Lower Laguna Madre

  • TX-34

Shellfish harvest areas TX-33 and TX-34 have not been sampled or closed in recent years as they have had very few or no reported landings of oysters.

The following shellfish harvesting areas will remain closed to public harvest beginning Nov. 1-

Galveston Bay

  • TX-3
  • TX-4
  • TX-6
  • TX-7
  • TX-9

Matagorda Bay

  • TX-12
  • TX-14
  • TX-15
  • TX-16
  • TX-18
  • TX-19
  • TX-20
  • TX-21

San Antonio Bay

  • TX-24
  • TX-25
  • TX-26
  • TX-27

Aransas Bay

  • TX-28 *Note TX-28 was closed by the TPW Commission Nov. 8, 2022
  • TX-29
  • TX-30
  • TX-32

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Carli is a Content Specialist for National Fisherman. She comes from a fourth-generation fishing family off the coast of Maine. Her background consists of growing her own business within the marine community. She resides on one of the islands off the coast of Maine while also supporting the lobster community she grew up in.

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