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Galveston Bay Oyster Shippers Accuse Competitor Of Harassment

This year’s Texas legislative session ended without addressing an ongoing dispute over oyster reefs in Galveston Bay. Now some oystermen say they’re being harassed by a company that claims to have exclusive rights over a large part of the bay’s reefs.

Prestige Oysters ship photo
A Prestige Oysters ship is followed by Tracy Woody of STORM while harvesting oysters in Galveston Bay.

 

Muhamer Zeqiri has worked for Prestige Oysters since he immigrated from Kosovo in 2010. He is a boat captain for the self-proclaimed “world’s largest oyster shipping company.”

But recently, he decided to take a break from oyster harvesting. Zeqiri feels intimidated by a company that claims he is trespassing.

“We have people coming next to us and videotaping and I’m not sure if I’m doing something wrong or something,” he says. “They make me feel like I’m stealing oysters.”

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The company, Sustainable Texas Oyster Resource Management, or STORM, is leasing 23,000 acres of submerged land in Galveston Bay from the Chambers-Liberty Counties Navigation District.

The problem is, Prestige Oysters is also leasing that area, but from the state of Texas. A bill addressing jurisdiction in this issue died in the legislature.

Meanwhile, Tracy Woody, president of STORM, says he’s doing nothing illegal.

“We’re not barbarians. We’re not out here running over their boats,” he says. “We’re not harassing their boats; we’re not circling their boats; we’re not making waves; we’re not making it dangerous.”

He says he is documenting other oystermen’s activities for a potential lawsuit.

 

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Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of Real Estate Editors, and Public Radio...

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