The Gulf of Mexico commercial shrimp season for both Texas and federal waters will close 30 minutes after sunset Sunday, May 15, until a still-to-be determined time in July.
The closing date is based on samples collected by the Coastal Fisheries Division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) using trawl, bag seine and other information gathered from the shrimping industry.
Data collected regarding TPWD bag seine catch rates of brown shrimp, mean lengths of shrimp in April, percent of samples containing shrimp, and periods of maximum nocturnal ebb tidal flow indicate a May 15 closing date is appropriate. Typically, once the shrimp reach about 3-1/2 inches long, they begin their migration to the gulf.
“The average size and abundance of brown shrimp collected in our sampling gear is greater than the 20 year average this year so setting the closure date for May 15th is appropriate,” says TPWD’s Coastal Fisheries Science and Policy Branch Chief Mark Lingo.
“The closure is designed to allow escapement of shrimp out to the gulf where they can grow to a larger, more valuable size before they are vulnerable to harvest,” said Robin Riechers, TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division Director. “The goal is to provide shrimp of a size that are more valuable for the shrimping industry while providing proper management and protection for the shrimp.”
The Texas closure applies to gulf waters from the coast out to nine nautical miles. The National Marine Fisheries Service has announced federal waters out to 200 nautical miles also will be closed to shrimping to conform to the Texas closure.
While the statutory opening date for the gulf season is July 15, TPWD’s Coastal Fisheries Division will be sampling shrimp populations to determine the optimum opening date. The date of the re-opening of gulf waters will be based on data collected in June, but the closure may not be longer than 60 days.