For many business owners in Rockport and the surrounding towns, Hurricane Harvey brought destruction to their buildings and inventory.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, about 40 percent of small businesses never open their doors to customers again after a disaster.
Alby Godinich, owner of Alby's Seafood, is determined that won't happen to his historic Rockport-Fulton business that has been open since 1983.
“We have lost a lot of money, I can tell you this. But hey, we are going to come back, we will come back,” said Godinich.
Godinich lost thousands and thousands of dollars of retail inventory and most of his equipment was damaged during the storm.
“We just reopened here a while back. We were shut down for five or six weeks. It will probably be a month or two to make up for what we have lost and everything, you know,” said Godinich.
The storm was the latest setback to a multimillion-dollar commercial fishing and seafood-processing industry that appeared poised to finally rebound after some down oyster seasons.
“We were just worried about the storm, if it was going to damage or kill the oysters. But the state went out there and checked them back in Copano; they said we got a good report, and that is why they opened the bay,” said Godinich.
“A lot of the people in some of the other bays in the state didn’t even open. We are in a lot better shape than a lot of other people are, you know,” said Godinich.
The Texas commercial and recreational oyster seasons open at sunrise on Nov. 1, 2017 and close at 3:30 p.m. on April 30, 2018. This year’s oyster season also comes with new rules adopted by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in August. The new rules affect both the recreational and commercial harvest of oysters.
New rules reduce the commercial possession limit of oysters from 40 sacks to 30 sacks per day, reduce the allowable amount of undersized oyster take from 15 percent to 5 percent and close Saturday to the commercial harvest of oysters. An updated version of the commercial fishing guide section relating oysters is available online.
The goals of these rule changes are to aid in the recovery of oyster resources in Texas’ bay systems, promote efficiency in utilizing oyster resources and provide a more stable price structure for commercially-harvested oysters.
The following shellfish harvesting areas will be open for the harvest of oysters beginning on Nov.1, 2017.
Matagorda (East and West) and Lavaca Bay:
San Antonio Bay:
Aransas and Copano Bay:
Corpus Christ Bay:
Lower Laguna Madre:
TPWD’s Coastal Fisheries Division continues to assess the impact on oysters in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The full impact of Hurricane Harvey on Texas oyster populations will depend on factors such as how long salinity levels remained low, the quantity and quality of the remaining oyster habitat and the ability of the surviving oysters to spawn before water temperatures drop. For example, sampling in October 2017 found mortalities of 51-100 percent in East Galveston Bay and 32-42 percent in the middle and lower sections of Galveston Bay. Mortalities are similar in other bay systems but vary widely within the system, depending on their proximity to fresh water.