Trends in the Galveston Bay oyster fishery, 1979-1984
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Spring floods of the Trinity River destroyed Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) populations on 217 ha of Trinity Bay reefs and damaged populations on an additional 100-120 ha in 1979. Heavy rainfall from summer tropical storms in 1979 caused further flooding that inhibited spawning and slowed oyster growth. The 1979-80 season was delayed 45 days by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (TPWC) to allow oysters to increase in size and to improve in condition. Substantial spat set during 1980 was enhanced by the planting of oyster shell over 313 ha of public reefs in central Galveston Bay. The 1980 year class dominated the population structure through 1983 and provided a record oyster harvest (approx. 2.7 million kg) during the 1982-83 season. Poor spat set in both 1982 and 1983 resulted in decreased market oyster abundance. Fishing pressure remained high during the 1983-84 season and market oyster abundance dropped to such a low level the TPWC closed the season 30 days early on 30 March 1984. A moderate spat set in 1984 indicated that market oyster abundance should increase in later years.