Nov. 1 usually means the oyster harvest begins on the Texas coast. However, on Wednesday the Texas Department of State Health Services announced that coastal waters closed to harvesting indefinitely because of red tide.
Red tide, an algal bloom of Karenia brevis, has been detected along the Texas coastline from Brownsville to Galveston. So, until further notice there will be no commercial or recreational harvesting of oysters, clams and mussels until further notice. Normally, the public can harvest oysters from November through April 30.
The following information is from the DSHS:
The algae contain a toxin that can accumulate in the tissue of oysters, clams, mussels and whelks and cause neurotoxic shellfish poisoning, or NSP, in humans who consume them. NSP symptoms can include nausea, dizziness, dilated pupils and tingling sensations in the extremities.”
DSHS is advising people not to harvest and eat oysters, clams, or mussels from Texas coastal waters. Oysters can be toxic without any indication of red tide such as discolored waters, respiratory irritation or dead fish. People are also advised not to harvest and eat whelks from Texas waters as these species also accumulate toxin from the red tide organism.
The warning does not apply to other types of seafood such as shrimp, finfish, crabs or to commercial seafood products from other states or countries. Oysters in the market place that were harvested before the red tide began or from other states are not affected by this algal bloom.
DSHS will be monitoring the red tide and will open areas to harvesting when it is safe to do so. For the latest information on the opening and closing of oyster harvest areas, call DSHS at 1-800-685-0361. For information on red tide, visit www.dshs.state.tx.us/seafood/redtide.shtm.