Texas wild-caught shrimp are so prized that, for about 60 days from May 15 to mid-July, the shrimp boats along Texas’ Gulf Coast stay docked.
It’s a unique state program that allows the small migrating shrimp population time to grow and repopulate the local supply.
“This program fundamentally supports our goals of protecting this important resource,” says Carol Huntsberger, owner of the 75-year-old Quality Seafood Market in Austin.
The program demonstrates the value Texas places on its seafood industry, which generates nearly $850 million in sales and provides more than 14,000 jobs in the state.
“Year after year, the waters of the Gulf of Mexico have provided a distinctive lifestyle for Texas fishermen,” says Bobby Champion Jr., state coordinator for shrimp marketing at the Texas Department of Agriculture. “This industry feeds a nation hungry for premium wild-caught seafood. It’s a unique part of Lone Star history. The Texas seafood industry is a continuing story of innovation and preservation.”
Texas shrimpers are responsible for approximately one-third of all shrimp harvested from the Gulf of Mexico each year.
Brown, white and pink shrimp are the most common species in Texas waters. Premium brown shrimp offer the boldest flavor, while white and pink shrimp varieties have a sweeter, lighter taste.
“People in Texas are proud of our state and like to use products that are local, domestic and sustainable,” Huntsberger says. “The bonus is that Texas wild-caught shrimp are some of the best in the world.”
Texas also produces oysters, snapper, tuna, mahi mahi, flounder and other seafood for retailers and consumers around the nation. Quality Seafood also sells “thousands and thousands” of pounds of black drum, which is akin to redfish.
“Black drum is one of the best fish on the market,” Huntsberger says. “It is so versatile because it’s easy to blacken, fry and grill, and it holds up in a soup. It’s a mild white fish and very clean. It’s a great fish for people who are looking to add fish to their diets.”
Huntsberger advises consumers new to eating fish to experiment.
“Be bold,” she says. “Find a fishmonger who knows about cutting fish and talk with them about likes and dislikes. There really is a fish for every taste.”