Texas passes law allowing oyster aquaculture
Texas Governor Greg Abbott recently signed a bill into law establishing a new regulatory framework allowing for oyster aquaculture on the state’s Gulf Coast.
Before passage of House Bill 1300, Texas was the only coastal state in the U.S. that didn’t allow oyster mariculture off its coasts. The new law allows oysters to be raised for their pearls, as well as their shells and meat.
Set to go into effect, the new law requires the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission to adopt rules that would establish a program to regulate the process of growing oysters. Abbott signed the bill into law last month, the last day of the 2019 session of the Texas Legislature.
State Rep. Todd Hunter, an author of the legislation, said the bill has the potential to transform the Texas coast.
“The arrival of oyster mariculture in Texas will benefit everyone from oyster farmers to the people who work in restaurants along the coast to all of the people who visit our region,” he said in a statement.
The law defines a cultivated oyster as an oyster grown at any point in the life-cycle of the oyster in or on an artificial structure suspended in water or resting on the bottom of a body of water.
The rules adopted under the new law establish requirements for the location and size of a cultivated oyster mariculture operation; the taking, possession, transport, movement, and sale of cultivated and broodstock oysters; marking structures for the cultivation of oysters in a mariculture operation; and fees and conditions for use of public resources, including broodstock oysters and public water.