GALVESTON, TEXAS — Jure Slabic learned this business like most who’ve survived it, he was initiated on the water by experienced family-based oystermen a generation or two older. He’s been doing this since he was nine.
“My father’s great, great grandfather was the first in our family,” said Slabic, of Gulf Coast Oysters in Dickinson, TX. “We were among the first Croatian settlers in the Gulf, and we’ve been oystering for 200 years.”
Now 34 years old, Slabic is an experienced waterman in the western Gulf of Mexico’s Galveston Bay. It’s the Gulf’s busiest area for oysters, and one of the most challenged since 2008.
That’s when Hurricane Ike wiped out half of Galveston Bay’s oyster habitat, some 6-7,000 of consolidated oyster reef and killed 60% of oysters in Galveston Bay (as much as 80 percent in East Galveston Bay). Every year since has been fraught with the scare of oyster-killing storms, droughts or floods. Earlier this year, in fact, Galveston County declared a disaster after the bay flooded with fatal freshwater from inland rains two years in a row, threatening the next couple years of harvest.
© Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
So it makes sense that the oyster industry says anytime is a …read more