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Corpus Christi restaurant owner pushes for oyster farming legalization

Posted: 9:49 PM, Mar 18, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-18 23:19:32-04

Texas is the only state in the country that has a coastline in which oyster farming isn’t legal. Corpus Christi restaurant owner Brad Lomax is urging lawmakers to change that.

“This will create opportunities for entrepreneurs up and down the coast,” Lomax said.

Lomax, the founder and president of the Waterstreet restaurants which include Water Street Oyster Bar and the Executive Surf Club, testified before a Texas House of Representatives committee last week on behalf of House Bill 1300 which he says would permit oyster farming in the waters off the Texas coast.

“I’m bringing in [oysters] from Alabama, or from Florida, or the Carolinas,” Lomax said. “I want to sell Texas products, and we have great waters and a great coastline to do it with.”

Dr. Joe Fox from the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M Corpus Christi would also like to Texas allow oyster farming which is also known as cultivated oyster mariculture.

“The beauty of doing cultivated oyster mariculture is that you know where your oysters are,” Dr. Fox said. “It’s not a fishing expedition to find them.”

Lomax says oyster fishing is bad for the environment.

“The current harvesting method of dredging wild reefs is unsustainable for the oyster fishery,” Lomax wrote on a flyer seeking donations for the Texas Restaurant Association that supports HB 1300. “This process destroys marine habitat, diminishes shoreline protection, damages recreation/tourism, and is ultimately debilitating to Texas coastal economies.”

Lomax and Fox agree that those same coastal economies stand to gain from a new industry like oyster farming.

“There’s a huge demand for oysters on the half shell, and it’s growing here in Texas,” Fox said. “It’s already exploding in other states.”