Texas game wardens issued warnings and citations to 12 seafood restaurants, fish markets and wholesale commercial fish dealers in Tyler, Quitman and Longview during a recent two-day inspection operation, according to a news release from the Texas Parks and Wildlife department.
In all, about 60 citations and warnings were issued at about 50 establishments in East Texas for a range of commercial seafood health and safety-related violations, according to the agency.
Most of the violations dealt with lack of required product origin documentation. Several cases highlighted an ongoing need for compliance enforcement measures, according to the agency.
Texas Parks and Wildlife released the list of seafood establishments cited for violations to the Tyler Morning Telegraph on Monday. The list included five Tyler businesses and three Tyler residents who were selling seafood.
Country Meat Market, Import Emporium, two Super Mercado locations and Kabayan Asian Food Mart were cited for not having a retail fish dealer license, according to the list.
The list showed Import Emporium's owner was cited for having undersized red snapper.
Two private Tyler residences also were cited for not having fish dealer licenses. One was cited for selling oysters in containers not bearing valid certification numbers and the other was warned for not maintaining receipts, according to the list.
The list also showed a Troup resident had been cited for illegally purchasing freshwater finfish.
Seth’s Lake Fork Creek and Seafood in Quitman was cited for not having a retail fish dealer license, according to the list. Game wardens seized about $1,600 worth of oysters packaged in 37 undocumented one-gallon plastic storage bags, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife's news release.
The news release said investigators also took possession of undocumented oysters in Angelina, Gregg and Nacogdoches counties. Sale of oysters in containers not bearing a valid certificate number is a Class A misdemeanor offense, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife.
Two Longview businesses were cited for violations. Fisherman’s Market was cited for having oysters in an undocumented container. East Young Seafood was given a warning for not having a nongame sales permit, according to the list.
Inspections in Polk and Trinity counties resulted in seizure of approximately 300 pounds of illegal fish product after investigators learned it was purchased from an unlicensed source, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife. All seafood in Texas for resale or consumption must be purchased from a licensed fish dealer or commercial fisherman, according to the agency.
“Without the required licenses, permits and invoices showing where the fresh seafood came from, there are no guarantees products like oysters were harvested and handled correctly,” Game Warden Maj. Chad Jones said in a news release. “We were not expecting to find these oyster cases this far north, but this does reinforce concerns that oysters reach every nook and cranny in the state.
"Texas is renowned for its oyster fishery, and there are regulations in place to ensure product quality from source to table. Those who choose to violate the law put the health and safety of the public at risk and will be held accountable.”
Jones said several cases are still under investigation and could be presented to county prosecutors for consideration.
He also said the agency would be conducting more frequent inspections, and warnings would be replaced with citations and arrest warrants.
Other violators included:
Crawdaddy’s Boil and Go in Nacogdoches, warned for not having a retail fish dealer license displayed.
Las Potosinas in Nacogdoches, warned for not displaying its fish dealer license.
Goose Landing in Nacogdoches, warned for not having a bait dealer license.
Crawfish Queen in Nacogdoches, cited for not having a wholesale fish dealer license.
JoAnne’s Country Grocery in Nacogdoches, warned for not having a bait dealer license and for records violations.
Sammy Ray’s Bait Shop in Nacogdoches, warned for not having a bait dealer license.
Tom’s Grocery in Nacogdoches, warned for not displaying a fish dealer license. Game wardens also cited two customers in the parking lot for possessing drug paraphernalia.
M and M Fish Market in Nacogdoches, game wardens seized 1 gallon of oyster product.
China Hibachi Buffett in Lufkin, cited for purchasing aquatic product from unlicensed dealer.
Thin Ga Ha Asian Market in Lufkin, cited for not having a retail fish dealer license, warned for a records violation and for not having a nongame permit
Area Lakes Catfish & Seafood Market in Lufkin, cited for not having a retail fish dealer license and warned for purchasing aquatic product from unlicensed dealer, a records violation and for not having a nongame permit.
Fruitlandia 8 in Lufkin, warned for not having a fish dealer license.
Tsubaki Japanese Restaurant in Lufkin, warned for not having a finfish import license and for failing to display a license.
Ralph & Kacoo's in Lufkin, game wardens seized two oyster sacks, warned for not having a finfish import license or displaying a license.
China Cafe in Woodville, cited for possession of protected finfish and warned about a records violation.
Fisherman’s Pride in Trinity, warned about a records violation and for not having a nongame permit.
Individual unlicensed dealer in Trinity, game wardens seized 217 pounds of catfish fillets, cited for not having a retail fish dealer license and selling protected fish, warned for not having a commercial fishing license and for not having a commercial boat license.
Individual unlicensed dealer in Livingston, game wardens seized 42 pounds of catfish fillets, cited for no retail fish truck dealer license, warned for having an improperly marked fish dealer truck and for a records violation.
LaFlor de Puebla Meat Market and Taqueria in Livingston, cited for not having a retail fish dealer's license and warned for packaging and labeling violations.
Dean’s Meat Market and Deli in Huntington, warned for not having a retail fish dealer license.