Judge Sets Texas Straight on Oysters

scales_of_justice_2A local navigation board had no authority to issue an oysterman an exclusive lease to grow and harvest oysters in Galveston Bay, as only the state can do that, a Texas judge ruled. Three Galveston-based oyster companies sued Sustainable Texas Oyster Resource Management (STORM) in April 2014, calling the fisherman’s lease a land grab of state resources during a lean time in the oyster industry. Oysters are a $1 billion industry in the United States, and by far the largest share comes from cultivated, not wild, oysters. Tracy Woody, president of STORM and owner of Jeri’s Seafood in Smith Point, a small town on the bay, said his lease from the Chambers-Liberty Counties Navigation District was valid, and that he would use the waters for sustainable oyster harvesting, not for personal gain. “Should I pillage and plunder a public resource for personal gain?” Woody said in an interview Monday. “Or should I try to sustain it, without using any taxpayer money?” But in a 2-page order on Sept. 28, Galveston County Judge Lonnie Cox granted the Galveston companies summary judgment and voided the lease. Read the rest here 16:40