October 30, 2006
The opening of oyster season in some Texas coastal waters will be delayed because of excessive rainfall, high bacterial levels or the lingering effects of red tide, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) announced today.
Some 19 bay areas will open for oyster harvesting Nov. 1 as scheduled, but the season opening in 14 others will be delayed.
Parts of Galveston Bay will be closed to harvesting because of elevated rainfall amounts. Part of Matagorda Bay and Tres Palacios Bay will not open Nov. 1 because of elevated bacterial counts. Parts of San Antonio Bay and all of Mesquite, St. Charles, Aransas, Copano and Corpus Christi bays 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 may only be harvested from certain commercial lease sites in Galveston Bay.
DSHS officials said that while visual signs of red tide in some bays have disappeared or diminished, 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 eat them.
Harvesters are encouraged to get shellfish harvesting maps from the nearest Texas Parks and Wildlife Department office and should periodically call DSHS’s 24-hour harvesting information line, 1-800-685-0361, for updates.
DSHS will continue testing in the closed areas, which will be opened as soon as possible.
The maps also are available online at www.dshs.state.tx.us/seafood/Classification.shtm.
Any Texas oysters in the commercial market will come only from open areas.
(News Media: for more information contact Doug McBride, DSHS Press Officer, Austin, 512-458-7524.)