Energy & Environment

Disease, Drought, And Over-harvesting Blamed For Poor Gulf Coast Oyster Production

Galveston’s oyster industry is slowly rebounding from the effects of Hurricane Ike. Six years later, scarcity and quality of oysters continue to be issues.

oysters in a bucket
Image credit: free images

Hurricane Ike buried half of Galveston’s oyster reefs under a lot of sediment.

Clifford Hillman, president of Hillman Shrimp and Oyster Company in Dickinson, says disease, over-harvesting and drought have affected the whole bay system:

“Oysters have to have a good deal of fresh water, and for Galveston Bay that is primarily the water coming down the Trinity River Basin, which begins north of Dallas near the Oklahoma border. It’s impacting in a negative fashion, Galveston Bay as well as the rest of the bays along the coast,” says Hillman.

Larry Robinson is head of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Coastal Fisheries division. He says fresh water is needed to rid the bay of disease brought on by the high saline content due to the drought.

“We’ve had poor production of oysters throughout the Gulf Coast. And so, that has certainly increased harvest pressure on any available resource that exists in Texas bays and estuaries,” says Robinson.

Galveston produced about 80-percent of Texas oysters before Ike. It’s now about 50-percent.

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