Commission Meeting Agenda Item No. 15
Presenter: Robin Riechers

Oyster Management Strategies Update
August 25, 2022

I.      Executive Summary: Staff will brief the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (Commission) on the current status of the oyster work groups formed following Commission direction at the March Commission meeting. The briefing will include a summary of the formation of the Oyster Work Groups, discussions surrounding key issues related to management and restorations efforts of the oyster fishery, issues brought forward during the March meeting, and timelines of future activities.

II.     Discussion: At the January 26, 2022, Commission meeting, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) staff proposed changes to the Statewide Oyster Fishery Proclamation that would close reefs in Ayres, Mesquite, and Carlos Bays to commercial harvest. The proposal was published in the Texas Register for public comment. Public hearings were held at three locations along the coast to gather public input. TPWD staff sought adoption of the proposed changes at the March 24, 2022, Commission meeting, but following extensive public testimony and deliberation, the Commission directed staff to form a stakeholder-based work group to discuss issues related to the proposed changes and other issues surrounding the oyster fishery.

Since the March meeting, two work groups were formed, including a workgroup for regulatory issues and a workgroup for restoration issues.  The groups have met twice to discuss priority issues and potential solutions surrounding the oyster fishery. The groups have also discussed the previous staff proposal to close reefs in Ayres, Mesquite, and Carlos Bays to commercial harvest and issues brought forward during the March commission meeting.