Skip to main content
Home Conservation Front

More moves to privatize our Public Trust Resources

Tom HiltonTom Hilton Posts: 1,595 Captain
Does privatizing a public trust resource for the exclusive benefit of a corporation and excluding everyone else from accessing it sound familiar?

Oddly, Scott Hickman of The Charter Fisherman's Association is AGAINST the oyster lease program outlined below although it mirrors the Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper IFQ system, which Hickman gladly participates in. Hickman is happy to have exclusive access to our Public Trust Resource with his IFQs and "Commercial Catch Share Experience" to profit from while everyone else is prohibited access to those same fish - that is, unless you are willing to pay Hickman/Guindon.

The Charter Fisherman's Association has worked for years with The Environmental Defense Fund to privatize our fisheries via Catch Shares.

Hypocrites to the maximum degree.

Half of Galveston Bay oyster beds handed to company in controversial lease

GALVESTON, Texas (FOX 26) -

In a deal that defies explanation, half the oyster beds of Galveston Bay, representing a harvest deep into the millions have been leased to a single seafood company for the nominal cost of just $36,633 dollars.

"I think this is very unjust, very unfair. This is the biggest land theft since we stole Texas from Mexico," said Michael Ivic, owner of Misho's Oysters, a business which stands to be a big loser if the deal stands.

The bargain oyster monopoly was quietly awarded by the little know Chambers-Liberty Counties Navigation District, a state sanctioned governmental agency created 70 years ago to build a never completed barge channel from the Gulf Coast to Dallas.

With this 23,000 acre oyster lease, the navigation district is attempting another ambitious feat - projecting its authority into Galveston Bay.

Those who harvest the Gulf for a living call it a potentially catastrophic precedent.

"If this lease is held to be valid and enforceable it would allow anyone the ability to turn the natural resources of the state into private ownership," said Clifford Hillman, owner of Hillman Seafood.

While both Texas Parks and Wildlife and Texas Land Office contend the navigation district had no authority to sign the lease the beneficiary of the deal, Sustainable Texas Oyster Resource Management LLP is proceeding as if it's totally valid and warning competitors to stay away from it's territory.

Congressman Randy Weber says the transaction simply can't be allowed to stand because Galveston Bay should be available to all Texans.

"When you just take the competition part of it alone that says you give one company the ability to control a particular part of industry it's not good for consumers, not good for the industry, not good for the people of Texas," said Weber.

And there's more, sports fishermen are joining the fight because the controversial lease agreement allows the oyster company power to exclude trespassers.

"It's not just the fishing guides who would have a problem. Ma and Pa who come down from Houston, drag their boat down from Houston and want to have a nice weekend of fishing, they would be able to be kept off these areas too," said Scott Hickman of the Charter Fishermen's Association.

"It's ethically wrong to even attempt to privatize what is the state's natural resource that belongs to all the people," added Hillman.

Terry Haltom, who serves as Chairman of the Chambers and Liberty Counties Navigation District, says he's not certain his organization has the authority to issue the lease but went ahead with the deal because Sustainable Oyster agreed to pay all legal costs.


Sign In or Register to comment.
Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

Preview This Month's Issue

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Florida Sportsman App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Florida Sportsman stories delivered right to your inbox.


Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Florida Sportsman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now