The coastline of Texas represents over 3,500 miles of open bays, marshes, reefs, and tidal flats, containing a broad diversity of habitats supporting some of the most valuable fisheries resources in the Gulf of Mexico. As a result of increased fishing pressure and frequent environmental perturbations, the status of these resources is changing. Our program is dedicated to the sustainable preservation and development of living resources of the Gulf of Mexico through aquaculture. Working with stakeholders within Texas, across the Gulf and other coastal states, and with international counterparts, our efforts will initially focus on improving availability of Texas oysters to Texas consumers as well as other states.
At present, the Texas oyster fishery is, at best, unpredictable. With the recent changes in the marine environment and the continued demand for oysters, our research will pave the way to better understand how oyster aquaculture can contribute to the national oyster market demands and continue to support environmental sustainability within Texas bays. Because Texas is the only coastal state in the U.S. that doesn't practice oyster aquaculture, we have established the Texas Oyster Resource and Recovery Center in Palacios, Texas. With funding from the RESTORE Act, we will be able to provide both conservation scientists and aquaculturists the necessary resources for improving ecosystem benefits from oysters and training a workforce for sustainable production of oysters.
Our research efforts focus on providing the state with basic information regarding the potential for oyster aquaculture in Texas bays: carrying capacity, development of siting models, environmental impact, effect on biodiversity and genetic diversity, growth modeling, best management practices, ecosystem services, and economic cost analysis.