Areas TX-19, 20 and 21 of Lavaca Bay will be closed to all oyster harvest effective January 23, 2016 due to low abundance of oysters in these areas. Chapter 76, Parks and Wildlife Code, and the Oyster Management Proclamation, Section 58.21(c)(1), provide for the emergency closure of an area to oyster harvesting when it can be shown that the area is being overworked or damaged.
These closures are based on samples collected by the Coastal Fisheries Division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and in consultation with the Oyster Advisory Workgroup, a group of Texas commercial oyster fishermen and dealers. TPWD and the Oyster Advisory Workgroup have established criteria based on the abundance of market-sized oysters (≥ 3 inches) and the percentage of small oysters (2-2.9 inches) for determining when an area should be closed.
“These areas have fairly large populations of small and juvenile oysters but the numbers of legal oysters are very limited,” says TPWD’s Coastal Fisheries Deputy Division Director Lance Robinson.
“These closures are designed to provide some protection to undersize oysters so they can reach legal sizes,” said Robinson. “These areas will be closely monitored by TPWD and will reopen when criteria thresholds are met.”
Maps showing these areas can be found on the Department of State Health Services web site (http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/seafood/default.aspx).