🦐 Texas Shrimping: Locations, Seasons & Licensing

Shrimping is a great family activity and a great source of income for many commercial fishers. The shrimp industry is vital for the US and shrimps are the best sellers among other seafood items. Texas is the southern state of the US and it has its role in the shrimp market. In this article, we will guide you through the shrimping regulations in Texas to widen your views about how shrimping is done in this region.

Shrimping Regulatory Body

TPWD which stands for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department controls the fishing activities in Texas. Shrimping gives 90% value to the fish market making it crucial to conserve shrimp populations.

Shrimping Varieties in Texas

Shrimpers in Texas catch brown and white shrimps. The brown shrimp is valuable for its taste and size. From 1979 to 2004 brown shrimps had secured 74.7% of the yield generated in Texas. The white shrimp generated 24.7 %.

Popular Shrimping Locations in Texas

The shrimping practices are carried out in the deep Gulf waters and the Texas bays. Shrimping in the coastal bays is an important practice for the coastal areas in Texas and since the middle of the 19th century, 25% to 30% weight of the yield in Texas has been generated by shrimping.

The Gulf of Mexico is a very important site for the US as it has the most amount of shrimps. In the year 2003 Texas shrimpers generated 35.2 Million pounds of landings from the Gulf region. This added a value of $93.6. Shrimping regions in Texas playing an important role in its shrimp industry, are as follow:

  • Galveston Port
  • Sabine lake
  • Trinity bay
  • East Bay
  • Matagorda Bay
  • East Matagorda Bay
  • Tres Palacios Bay
  • Espiritu Santa bay
  • Lavaca bay
  • San Antonio bay
  • Aransas Bay
  • Corpus Christi bay

Restricted Areas

The areas not titled major or bait bays are called nursery areas. These consist of:

  • Bayous
  • Inlets
  • Lakes
  • Tributary bays
  • Rivers

Shrimping Licenses

The following are the license options available to suit your specific purpose:

  • Commercial license for resident shrimp boat at the gulf location
  • Commercial license for resident shrimp boat at the bay location
  • Commercial license for resident  shrimp boat for bait
  • Commercial license for a resident boat captain
  • Commercial license for non-resident shrimp boat at the gulf location
  • Commercial license for non-resident shrimp boat at the bay location
  • Commercial license for non-resident  shrimp boat for bait
  • Commercial license for a non-resident boat captain

Allowed Shrimping Gear

For shrimping as a sport the following gear is allowed:

  • Cast nets
  • Seine
  • Individual trawl for bait

Individual Trawl for Bait

  • One trawl for one boat is permitted
  • Shrimp bait trawl tag is required
  • Between the doors, the width shouldn’t exceed 20 feet
  • The size of the mesh shouldn’t be less than 8-3/4 inches over 5 meshes located consecutively
  • The boards shouldn’t be bigger than 450 sq. inches

Shrimping Seasons

For shrimping seasons 72 hours notice is given before closing and 24 hours before the season begins.  Based on the samples taken from the water, TPWD opens the season each year. The shrimping season in 2020 began on July 16 after a 60-day closure. The closure can only last for 60 days. This annual closure is to conserve brown shrimp and to make sure they reach a reasonable size otherwise they go to waste and affect the shrimp industry catastrophically.

The usual shrimping season from August to March allows 2 quarts per person of shrimps 30 minutes before the sun rises. 4 quarts per boat 30 minutes after the sun rises is allowed. During the April to August shrimping season of the year from 30 minutes before the sun rises till 2 pm, there are no count size limits. During the spring open season shrimping other than for bait at major bay areas is allowed from 30 minutes before the sun rises. During this season 15 pounds per day per person is permitted.

From May to July season there are no count limits till 2 pm. During the fall open season, 30 minutes before sunrise, 15 pounds of shrimp per day per person are allowed. In the August to October season, 30 minutes after the sun sets, shrimps not exceeding 50 pounds of the count are permitted. The November season has no count size limitations.  These are a few seasons that Texas witnesses. More information can be found on the TPWD official website.

Unlawful Practices

Shrimp taken for personal use cannot be sold. Shrimping from saltwater for personal use requires a stamp endorsing saltwater fishing and a proper fishing license. It is prohibited to take or try shrimping in the specific regions of Laguna Madre North, details available at the official website of TPWD: https://tpwd.texas.gov/regulations/outdoor-annual/fishing/shellfish-regulations/shrimp-regulations

The Shrimping Crisis

In Texas, shrimpers are facing huge problems due to the rising regulations on shrimping. To fish lawfully the equipment and price are becoming hard to manage and on the other hand decreasing shrimp prices is leaving lesser profits behind.

Catching shrimps is becoming difficult and with all the gear used to keep other fish safe time is lost in all that preparation. The vessel, fuel, and crew wages are hard to cut from any side and thus the cost of shrimping is becoming very hard to control. Farm-raised shrimps are cheaper thus commercially caught shrimps are losing their value.

In June 2020 the shrimp industry reported a steep decline. NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) declared that 26.5 million pounds of shrimp were found in the Gulf of Mexico in 2020 which is 37.8 percent less than the past number of 42.5 pounds.

Conclusion

Shrimping in Texas plays an important role in its economy. The past has seen its highs and lows and this year of 2020 has been dramatically upsetting for the shrimpers. While the government tries to conserve shrimp species the fishermen are finding it hard to keep following the rules and gain profit at the same time. The government and the shrimpers must work together otherwise the shrimp industry might lose its charm.