As the Texas state government moves to establish regulations for an oyster-growing industry along the state’s Gulf Coast, policymakers should ensure the new rules include protections for vulnerable coastal habitat, provisions to prevent and control disease outbreaks in the water, and other elements of environmentally responsible mollusk aquaculture.
Those are among the recommendations that The Pew Charitable Trusts submitted to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in an April 15 letter in response to proposed rules to guide new oyster-growing operations. With wild oyster populations struggling in Texas waters, the Texas Legislature in 2019 instructed the commission to adopt regulations to guide the development of an oyster-growing industry. Oyster aquaculture, called mariculture in Texas, introduces baby oysters grown in land-based hatcheries into areas of state waters. The mollusks typically mature to market size in cages that float or are suspended in the water.
Oyster mariculture has the potential to satisfy some of the state’s consumer demand for oysters and provide economic benefits to coastal communities. Pew’s letter offers suggestions aimed at ensuring the program and regulations safeguard coastal and ocean ecosystems.
Read Pew’s letter to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.