TPW Commission Adopts Changes to Commercial Shrimp and Oyster Rules

TPW Commission Adopts Changes to Commercial Shrimp and Oyster Rules

Commercial bay shrimpers will no longer have to cull small shrimp during the fall season, thanks to regulation changes adopted May 21, 2015 by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.

The elimination of a 50 heads on shrimp per pound count/size requirement for commercial bay shrimpers in inside waters during the fall season (Aug. 15Oct. 31) should help reduce resource waste that occurs from undersized shrimp mortality during the culling process.

The commission also clarified reference to the effective date of federal rules stipulating turtle excluder device (TEDs) requirements and corrected an outdated statement regarding the waters in which TEDs are required.

In addition, the commission approved changes to commercial oyster fishing regulations requiring dead oyster shell greater than ¾” to be returned to the reef at the time of harvest and be counted as an undersized oyster, and amended the definition of “sack of oysters” to include dead oyster shell greater than ¾”.

Many of the state’s oyster reefs have been depleted and hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of cultch (material, such as oyster shell, that furnishes a place for larval oysters to attach and grow to maturity) have been removed from the state’s public oyster reefs as a consequence of oyster dredging. The majority of the cultch removed from public reefs is not recovered. The continuing removal of shell from oyster habitat poses a threat to the viability of the state’s oyster fishery, because a reduction in the cultch juvenile oysters depend on for growth results in less recruitment and, potentially, fewer legal-sized oysters.