Local Processor Says Oyster Season May Not Be Over

The oyster season, which was to have started in November, has been on hold because of the Red Tide. The widespread algae bloom, which was made worse by the drought, can contaminate oysters and state health officials have shut down harvesting because of the health threat.

This is part of a video just released by Texas Parks and Wildlife.

"Unfortunately, the drought is predicted to persist at least through early spring, mid-spring and so that would typically be about the length of our commercial oyster season."
But not so fast says Clifford Hillman. He's been processing oysters at his family business in Dickinson for decades. He says Galveston Bay has fared much better than other areas and the recent rains have helped. 

"We had lower cell counts in Galveston Bay than we did the lower coast bays to begin with. Coupled with substantial rains that we received Monday of this week, I trust we got enough rain to do away with the Red Tide. Once they spend a couple of weeks going through their testing regimes, I'm hopeful that we get open toward the end of this month or the first of February."

Hillman says missing most of this season has been hard on his business and others along Galveston Bay.

"We should be working right now at full bore with about 280 people not including the boat captains, boat operators and deck hands and we currently are at total employment of 11 people."

Texas Parks and Wildlife says the good news is that the oyster harvest late this year could be above average because of this season's closure.

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