Texas Oyster Season Opens Nov. 1

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AUSTIN- Per regulation, the Texas commercial and recreational public oyster harvest season opens Nov. 1 and closes April 30, 2024. In an effort to protect and restore oyster reefs showing signs of environmental stress, many shellfish harvest areas will be closed to fishing at the beginning of this season.

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

The areas that are open have a relatively high abundance of legal-sized oysters; TPWD chose these locations in an attempt to distribute the commercial oyster fleet over more areas. Some shellfish harvest areas that do not meet previously stated metrics for populations of legal-sized oysters will remain open and be closely monitored.

“We had hoped for better abundance numbers that would have allowed for more areas to be open,” said Robin Riechers, director of Coastal Fisheries for TPWD. “Unfortunately, conditions through the summer were not as good for oyster growth as we would have liked. We will continue to pursue oyster restoration to allow our wild oyster populations to increase both for commercial purposes as well as for the ecological benefits oysters provide.”

To facilitate reef recovery, TPWD will continue to sample open shellfish harvest areas and close zones that drop below recommended metrics.

A map showing the shellfish harvest areas can be found on the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) website. The list below does not reflect harvest area closures for public health. Please visit the DSHS website for the latest information.

In March 2022, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission directed the TPWD to form an ad hoc oyster advisory workgroup representing all stakeholders to further study oyster management strategies and issues surrounding the sustainability of oysters in our bay systems. TPWD has continued to seek input from this group when opening oyster areas.

Texas Parks and Wildlife code allows for the emergency closure of reefs to oyster harvest when evidence of the area being overworked is shown. These closings are based on samples collected by TPWD showing low catch rates of legal-sized, harvestable oysters.

Of the 28 shellfish harvest areas along the Texas coast, 20 will be closed at the start of the public oyster season.

The following shellfish harvesting areas will be open to public harvest beginning Nov. 1:

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 be 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