Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Texas Gulf Oysters Are Back on the Menu. (Take That, Drought!)

Photo by Flickr user Swamibu/Creative Commons

After almost losing the entire season to drought, gulf oysters are back on the menu in Texas.

Some good news today for fans of Texas Gulf oysters, which have been off the menu this season due to the drought. Those heavy rains we’ve been having in parts of Texas have alleviated the red tide and oyster harvesting will begin again at midnight tonight in the Espiritu Santo and San Antonio Bays northeast of Corpus Christi.

But hurry, because those bivalves may not be open to harvesting for long, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife department:

A very small portion of Texas waters will open to shellfish harvesting tomorrow. At 12:01 am on Friday, January 27, 2012 Espiritu Santo and the conditionally approved area of San Antonio Bay will open to commercial oyster harvest. Due to the recent rains in the Austin area the conditional area of San Antonio Bay might not remain open for long. The Texas Department of State Health Services will continue to monitor the red tide and will open areas to harvesting when it is safe to do so.

The return of gulf oysters in Texas is welcome news to gourmands and fisherman alike. In December, USA Today reported that “a monstrous bloom of toxic algae looming across the Texas coast has shut down oyster season.” Because of the drought, “the algae could cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in humans and is harmful to fish but not fatal to people.”

“Typically the oyster season opens in September,” says Carol Huntsberger, who owns Quality Seafood Market in Central Austin with her husband. “In the last couple years, due to the drought and red tide, you know, it was pushed back. Last year I think it didn’t open until November. So this is the latest I’ve ever seen it open.”

With some good rain, enough of that algae (the aforementioned red tide) has abated, and oysters are safe to eat again for the time being.

The department says you can call the Department of Health Services for updates on on the opening and closing of oyster harvest areas. The number? 1-800-685-0361.


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