Lance Robinson, head of Coastal Fisheries at Texas Parks and Wildlife, reports that last week, $700,000 in funds received after hurricane Rita were used to pay for nine barges full of 18,000 tons of river rock, restoring a 20-acre public oyster reef area in East Galveston Bay.
In late August, the board of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department voted to close East Galveston Bay to oyster fishing for two years while restoration efforts are undertaken. Eighty percent of the oyster reefs in the East Bay were covered with debris after recent hurricanes.
Robinson reports that Texas has received $7 million from the federal government for a Fishery Disaster Grant to repair damage from Hurricane Ike. $2.7 million will be spent on oyster reef restoration, with $1.4 million going to more stone dumping and $1.3 million to hire commercial oyster boats to drag bagless dredges over public reefs covered with silt to expose the shells so new oysters can grow on them. Reef restoration work should begin in the spring.
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Of the rest of the grant, another million will go to the shrimp fishery, $600,000 will go toward improving access to fishing sites and $2 million will go toward marsh restoration that benefits the entire Bay. The rest of the money was spent on damage assessments.