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Effort underway to develop Texas oyster farming industry

Posted at 3:23 PM, Oct 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-25 19:38:51-04

A large effort is underway to develop commercial oyster farming in Texas. Currently, Texas is the only coastal state that doesn’t have an industry like it.

About 40 environmentalists, elected officials, business people and educators are behind the effort.

Supporters of the effort, like Dr. Joe Fox who works at the Harte Research Institute, say developing commercial oyster farming could be a huge economic and environmental boost for the state.

“Texas could be the number one oyster producer for at least the Gulf of Mexico,” Fox said.

The push began in 2011, nearly seven years later, legislation is now being drafted to create commercial oyster farming in Texas.

The controlled environment of oyster farming allows for better consistency in shape and taste.

“So you come up with an oyster that has a lot more value to the producer,” Fox said.

Dr. Fox and others have researched how other states are developing oyster farms. He says, if this industry is developed in Texas, it could bring in as much as $130 million a year.

“We can double the production of oysters for the state of Texas with only 2,000 acres,” Fox said.​

With that many oysters, it would also be a plus for oyster aficionados who visit businesses like Water Street Oyster Bar.

“My customers in here are the ultimate decision makers on this product,” Brad Lomax, founder and president of Water Street Restaurants said.

Lomax added it’d be also be a big win for restaurant owners like himself too.

“I’m importing product right now to satisfy the pallets of my customers,” Lomax said. “I want to serve Texas products.”

Among those involved in the effort include the Harte Research Institute, Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Texas Restaurant Association, Matagorda County Navigation District, and more.