October 30, 2009
The opening of oyster season in some Texas coastal waters will be delayed because of excessive rainfall or red tide, the Texas Department of State Health Services announced today.
Thirteen bay areas will open for oyster harvesting Nov. 1 as scheduled, but the season opening in 17 other areas will be delayed.
Parts of Galveston Bay will be closed to harvesting because of elevated rainfall amounts. Parts of Lavaca Bay, San Antonio Bay, Matagorda Bay and Tres Palacios Bay will not open Nov. 1 because of excessive rainfall amounts, which have caused elevated bacteria levels. All of St. Charles, Aransas, Copano, Corpus Christi bays, the Lower Laguna Madre and South Bay will remain closed to harvesting due to red tide toxins.
Normally, the public can harvest oysters from Nov. 1 through April 30. From May 1 through Oct. 31, oysters can only be harvested from certain commercial lease sites in Galveston Bay.
DSHS officials said that while visual signs of red tide have not been seen lately in some areas, the toxin produced by the red tide algae can remain in the edible tissue of oysters, clams, mussels and whelks for several weeks. The toxins can cause neurotoxic shellfish poisoning, or NSP, in humans who consume them.
Harvesters are encouraged to get shellfish harvesting maps from the nearest Texas Parks and Wildlife Department office and to periodically call the DSHS 24-hour harvesting information line, 1-800-685-0361, for updates. The maps also are available online at www.dshs.state.tx.us/seafood/classification.shtm.
DSHS will continue testing in the closed areas, which will be opened as soon as possible.
Any Texas oysters in the commercial market will come only from areas open to harvest.
(News Media Contact: Allison Lowery, DSHS Assistant Press Officer, 512-458-7111, ext. 2213.)
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