AUSTIN – The Gulf of Mexico commercial shrimp season for both Texas and federal waters will close 30 minutes after sunset on Saturday, May 15, 2021until a still-to-be determined date in July. While the statutory opening date for the gulf season is July 15, the Coastal Fisheries Division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) will be sampling shrimp populations this summer to determine the optimum opening date.
In order to allow brown shrimp to reach a larger and more valuable size prior to harvest, the shrimp fishery is closed annually off Texas. This helps prevent the waste of brown shrimp that might otherwise be discarded due to their small size.
The May 15 closing date is based on samples collected by biologists using trawl, bag seine and information gathered from the shrimping industry. Data collected includes bag seine catch rates of brown shrimp, mean lengths of shrimp in April 2021, percent of samples containing shrimp, and periods of maximum nocturnal ebb tidal flow.
“The goal of this closure is twofold. It allows shrimp to migrate into gulf waters so they can reach a larger, more valuable size before they are harvested. And it ensures our shrimp stocks are sustainable in the future,” said TPWD’s Coastal Fisheries Division Director Robin Riechers.
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.