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Demonstration oyster farm

The dawn of a new industry: Oyster farming in Texas

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PALACIOS — On a recent balmy afternoon, Ellis Chapman emptied a cage of 4-month-old oysters on the front of a boat in Tres Palacios Bay.

“Do you see how clean they are?” Chapman asked, as he moved them around with his hands. “They were the size of sand when we got them, like a big clump of sand. That was six weeks ago and now they are maybe 1 ½-inch just really beautiful oysters.”

Demonstration oyster farm

Ellis “Chappie” Chapman, left, and Mario Marquez, oyster aquaculture specialist, lift baskets of oysters out of the water in Tres Palacios Bay.

Demonstration oyster farm

Ellis “Chappie” Chapman holds a handful of oysters from the demonstration farm in Tres Palacios Bay. Oyster mariculture was legalized in Texas in 2019 and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced the launch of online permit applications in August.

Demonstration oyster farm

Mario Marquez steers a boat to the demonstration oyster farm in Palacios. The farm is run by Joe Fox of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies.

Demonstration oyster farm

View of the demonstration oyster farm from the pier at the Palacios Marine Agriculture Research Center in Palacios.

Demonstration oyster farm

Ellis "Chappie" Chapman holds up an individual oyster at a demonstration farm in Palacios.

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Kali Venable is an investigative and environmental reporter for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at 361-580-6558 or at

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Investigative & Environmental Reporter

I was born and raised in Houston, but spent many summers and weekends in the Crossroads while growing up. I studied journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, and feel lucky to cover a region I love dearly.

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