The Gulf Coast produces nearly half (45%) of the nation’s $250 million oyster industry, according to an NOAA Fisheries report. In Texas, the industry contributes approximately $50 million to the state economy, based on Texas A&M estimates. In recent months, the oyster industry has taken a financial hit due to a number of challenges, including the temporary closing of a majority of the commercial oyster reef on the Texas Gulf Coast by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).
So, what’s behind the closures, and how are these challenges impacting industry professionals?
Texas oyster reef closures and community impacts
On March 23, the TPWD heard public comments from industry businessmen, oystermen workers, stakeholders and researchers in the field in response to an agenda item to permanently close the Ayres, Carlos and Mesquite Bays. The department stated that the closures are due to harvest reefs not producing oysters at the legal size to harvest.
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