Regulations Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 a.m., June 2, 1999

Commission Hearing Room
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
Item
No.
Subject Public Hearing
Agenda Item No.
  Approval of the Committee Minutes from the previous meeting.  
  Summary of Minutes  
1. Chairman's Charges – Legislative Update (Oral Presentation) Committee Only
2. Commission Policy Review
Staff: Andrew Sansom
Committee Only
3. Agency Sunset Procedure
Staff: Andrew Sansom
Committee Only
4. FY 1999-2000 Eastern Turky Regulations
Staff: Gary Graham
2
5. 1999-2000 Migratory Game Bird Proclamation – Early Season
Staff: Vernon Bevill
3
6. Shrimp Management in Texas
Staff: Hal Osburn
Committee Only
7. Permits to Sell Nongame Fish
Staff: Joedy Gray
6
8. Petition for Rulemaking – Frog Bag Limits
Staff: John Herron
7
9. Other Business  

Summary of Minutes
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Regulations Committee
April 14, 1999

BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 14th day of April 1999, there came to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Parks and Wildlife Commission of Texas, in the commission hearing room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Headquarters complex, Austin, Travis County, Texas, beginning at 9:23 a.m., to wit:

I. COMMISSION ATTENDANCE

Lee M. Bass, Chair
Dick Heath
Ernest Angelo, Jr.
John Avila, Jr.
Carol E. Dinkins
Alvin Henry
Katherine Armstrong Idsal
Nolan Ryan
Mark E. Watson, Jr.

II. APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

Chairman Lee Bass entertained a motion by Commissioner Heath to approve the minutes of the January 20, 1999 meeting of the Regulations Committee. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Angelo and was passed without opposition.

III. THE FOLLOWING ITEMS WERE PRESENTED FOR COMMITTEE CONSIDERATION:

1. BRIEFING - CHAIRMAN'S CHARGES

The Chairman recognized Executive Director Andrew Sansom, who reported on the status of the Chairman's charges to the Regulations Committee. Mr. Sansom brought the committee up to date on the progress of the agency's review of its internal policies, stating that staff had reduced internal policies by 63%. Mr. Sansom then mentioned the Wildlife Division's activities to increase public hunting opportunity, the Inland Fisheries Division's improvements to regulations on the sale of nongame fish, and the department's decision to sell departmental information to nonprofit organizations at a reduced rate.

2. ACTION - 1999-2000 STATEWIDE HUNTING AND FISHING PROCLAMATION The Chairman recognized Phil Durocher, Director of the Inland Fisheries Division. Mr. Durocher began by reviewing the strategy employed by the Inland Fisheries Division for simplifying regulations, explaining that some regulations are experimental in nature and that through continuous monitoring of the resource, staff is able to target regulations that have not resulted in expected benefits. He then enumerated various regulations that staff felt should be returned to statewide standards. Mr. Durocher followed by reviewing various regulatory proposals, along with supporting biological data, aimed at increasing opportunity, including temporary retention of fish for weighing purposes on catch-and-release reservoirs, reductions in slot-limits, imposition of slot-limits, and elimination of minimum length limits for certain species. Continuing, Mr. Durocher apprised the committee of a regulatory strategy for protecting endangered species of fishes in the Trans-Pecos region and explained a proposal to prohibit the underwater use of hand-held devices to take fish. Mr. Durocher concluded with a summary of public comment on the proposed regulatory changes. Commissioner Angelo inquired as to the staff response to complaints about the proposed changes to regulations on Lake Murvaul. Mr. Durocher responded that concerns were primarily about tournaments on the lake, and added that staff felt that minor adjustments to tournament rules would not pose a major inconvenience to the tournament sponsors, especially since the regulatory changes would result in better fishing. Chairman Bass asked what factors had caused the population profile on Lake Murvaul to change. Mr. Durocher replied that an increase in habitat had resulted in the proliferation of small fish, which in turn caused growth rates to slow in response to increased competition. The Chairman then asked if the baitfish changes for the Trans-Pecos would affect people in the pet trade. Mr. Durocher stated that they would not. The Chairman then recognized Hal Osburn, Director of the Coastal Fisheries Division, who provided a review of his division's proposal to increase the minimum size limits on king mackerel and reduce the red snapper bag limit. Mr. Osburn reported that public comment had been light and no opposition to the proposals had been received. He also informed the Committee that federal authorities were deferring action on certain aspects of the proposal, which necessitated changes to the staff proposal. The Chairman asked when staff thought that federal authorities would implement the deferred changes. Mr. Osburn replied that he thought it would be autumn before anything happened. The Chairman asked what public comment had been in response to the proposal. Mr. Osburn replied that there had been none. The Chairman then recognized Gary Graham, Director of the Wildlife Division, who in turn introduced Jerry Cooke, Director of the Upland Wildlife Ecology Program. Mr. Cooke began by outlining nonsubstantive, housekeeping-type changes to the proposed regulations. Mr. Cooke then reviewed the department's proposal to open additional counties for the hunting of Eastern wild turkey, and the rationale behind the staff's recommendation to withdraw the proposal, refine it, and re-propose it. Chairman Bass then asked if there was any reason why archery couldn't be included as a lawful means for spring turkey seasons. Mr. Cooke stated that there was not. Commissioner Angelo suggested that the new proposal include archery and crossbows as lawful methods, and the Chairman concurred. Mr. Cooke then proceeded to review staff proposals concerning white-tailed deer, including a summary of public comment for each. Chairman Bass inquired as to the rationale for allowing the Bonus White-tailed Deer Tag to be transferable. Mr. Cooke responded that it was to allow landowners to manipulate their harvest regime with greater ease. The Chairman noted that the proposed tag would also address to some degree the dilemma of hunting buck deer in two or more counties under a one-buck bag limit. Chairman Bass asked if there were going to be any enforcement difficulties related to the tag, and Mr. Cooke responded that consultation with the Law Enforcement Division had revealed none. Commissioner Angelo asked what the primary benefit of the tag was expected to be. Mr. Cooke replied that first, landowners would have greater flexibility to manage their harvest, and second, the revenues from tag sales would be used to increase public hunting opportunity. Commissioner Angelo then asked what staff expected in the way of revenues, and Mr. Cooke replied that a ballpark figure would be approximately $50,000, but offered the caveat that actual sales could be higher or lower. Mr. Cooke then addressed a proposal to create a youth-only season for squirrels and a series of public proposals, including the opening of a restricted general deer season in Grayson County, adjustments to opening day in several counties, adjustments to buck harvest in several counties, and archery regulations. Chairman Bass discussed the proposal received from the Doss Management Cooperative, stating that it perplexed him that the co-op was asking the state to impose stricter regulations when co-op members were already free to be more restrictive. Commissioner Angelo addressed the public proposal to prohibit locking devices on archery equipment during the archery-only season, stating that opinion on it seemed to be divided and that he wanted to know more about the issue, since he wasn't as familiar with bowhunting as he was with other hunting methods. The Chairman, Commissioner Angelo, and Mr. Cooke discussed the nature of the device, the historical context of archery regulations, and the issue of crossbows, with the Chairman deferring the issue to the following day. The Chairman then offered to entertain a motion to forward the item to the full Commission for adoption. The motion was made by Commissioner Ryan, seconded, and passed without opposition.

3. ACTION - MIGRATORY GAME BIRD PROCLAMATION

The Chairman recognized Vernon Bevill, Director of the Migratory Wildlife and Wetlands Ecology Program. Mr. Bevill outlined the staff proposal for early-season species of migratory game birds, including an increase in season length for mourning dove, a 16-day teal season, and adjustments to other seasons to accommodate calendar shift. The Chairman asked what other mechanisms besides the public comment process the department had at its disposal to gauge public opinion on dove season length. Mr. Bevill replied that staff was currently in the process of a mail survey of dove hunters, the results of which would be made available to the Commission at its June 1999 meeting. Commissioner Angelo inquired as to the issue of half-day versus full-day dove hunting. Mr. Bevill responded that the survey alluded to earlier also contained questions on that particular issue. Commissioner Angelo then asked what public opinion was with regard to the issue of opening dove season on the first Saturday versus the first possible day. Mr. Bevill informed the Committee that the issue was as well included in the current survey effort. Chairman Bass asked how large the mail-out was. Mr. Bevill replied that approximately 3,500 questionnaires had been mailed. Mr. Bevill then apprised the Committee on the results of the special light-goose conservation season. The Chairman entertained a motion to authorize staff to publish the proposed proclamation in the Texas Register for public comment. Commissioner Angelo seconded, and the motion passed without opposition.

4. BRIEFING - GULF OF MEXICO FISHERY MANAGEMENT COUNCIL

The Chairman recognized Hal Osburn, Director of the Coastal Fisheries Division. Mr. Osburn provided background information on state and federal jurisdiction in Gulf waters, the authority, composition, and rulemaking process of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, and the present status of management activities. He then apprised the Committee of the problematic issue of red snapper management, the difficulties raised by the biology of the species and compounded by its popularity as a sportfish and commercial resource. Mr. Osburn noted that red snapper management is a high-profile issue and quite complicated because of the various agencies and deliberative bodies that are involved on various levels, and pointed out several dimensions that management strategies have taken. The Chairman asked why a moratorium on snapper had been implemented and if it was still in effect. Mr. Osburn replied that it was a by-catch issue related to shrimp and that the moratorium had expired. The Chairman then asked what sort of reductions resulted from device restrictions. Mr. Osburn replied that it was estimated to be as high as 60%, with less than a 3% loss of shrimp. Mr. Osburn stated that the council process was effective, but that a great deal of that effectiveness rested on leadership and cooperation among scientists, government, and industry. The Chairman asked what the relationship was between sport and commercial harvest, and Mr. Osburn replied that it was about fifty-fifty, but that the prevailing view was that some portion of the commercial quota needed to be shifted to recreational harvest, which is feasible because of limited entry. The Chairman then asked what the economic impact would be, and Mr. Osburn replied that it would be substantial, but the numbers had not been calculated yet. Commissioner Ryan then inquired as to how many commercial snapper fisherman were active in Texas, and Mr. Osburn replied that the number was approximately 40. The Chairman and Mr. Osburn then discussed licensing issues related to charter boats, with the Chairman stating that he thought the Commission could support some kind of surcharge and buyout fund.

5. ACTION - PUBLIC LANDS PROCLAMATION; STATE PARK HUNTS

The Chairman recognized Herb Kothmann, Director of the Public Hunting Program. Mr. Kothmann presented a regulatory proposal to authorize the executive director to cancel public hunts in the event of extreme weather or other emergencies. Mr. Kothmann then gave the Committee an overview of proposed hunting activities on the state park system for 1999-2000, specifically identifying new parks added to the public hunting program, and expanded opportunity on parks currently holding hunts. For the benefit of the new members of the Commission, Chairman Bass provided a brief legislative history on hunting within the state park system, and asked what percentage of the proposed hunts were youth hunts. Mr. Kothmann responded that the figure was approximately 20%. The Chairman entertained a motion by Commissioner Heath to forward the proposed proclamation to the full Commission for adoption. The motion was seconded by Mr. Ryan and passed without opposition.

6. BRIEFING - EXPANSION OF PUBLIC HUNTING OPPORTUNITY

The Chairman again recognized Herb Kothmann, Director of the Public Hunting Program. Mr. Kothmann began by noting that public hunting was a good vehicle for encouraging greater numbers of people to hunt, and that staff had accordingly been working on various initiatives to increase public hunting opportunity. These included initiating hunts modeled on the existing dove-lease program, the leasing of private properties for deer hunting, a lottery for high-quality deer hunting, and additional hunts patterned after the Grand Slam hunting program. Mr. Kothmann noted that the Bonus White-tailed Deer Tag contained in the 1999-2000 Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation was part of the initiative as well. Mr. Kothmann also stated that because the initiative was still in its infancy, public comment on it thus far had been slight.

V. ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business, Chairman Bass adjourned the April 14, 1999 meeting of the Regulations Committee of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.


Committee Agenda Item No. 1
Presenter: Andrew Sansom

Regulations Committee
Briefing
Chairman's Charges
Legislative Update
June 1999

(This item will be an oral presentation.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenter: Andrew Sansom

Regulations Committee
Briefing
Commission Policy Review
June 1999

I. DISCUSSION: The Commission Chairman has directed staff, under the Chairman's Charges, to conduct a sunset review on all policies of the Commission and all policies of the Executive Director. Staff was to identify all policies that are required for successful operation and eliminate those which are no longer relevant. During the review process staff updated the Commission Policy Manual and created the Department Policy Manual by identifying those policies in need of revision, repeal and/or compilation.


Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenter: Andrew Sansom

Regulations Committee
Briefing
Agency Sunset Procedure
June 1999

I. DISCUSSION: During the interim between the 76th and 77th session of the state legislature Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will undergo sunset review by the Sunset Advisory Commission. In early June the department will receive a self-evaluation report which will initiate the sunset review process. This report is due to the Sunset Advisory Commission on August 15, 1999. To facilitate Commission involvement staff will present an overview of the sunset process including schedules.


Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Presenter: Gary Graham

Regulations Committee
Action
FY 1999-2000 Eastern Turkey Regulations
June 1999

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 2.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 5
Presenter: Vernon Bevill

Regulations Committee
Action
1999-2000 Migratory Game Bird Proclamation
Early Season Provisions
June 1999

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 3.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 6
Presenter: Hal Osburn

Regulations Committee
Briefing
Shrimp Management in Texas
June 1999

I. DISCUSSION: Mr. Hal Osburn, Coastal Fisheries Division will brief the Committee on shrimp management in Texas, its history, current problems, and the ongoing shrimp rule review process initiated by the Coastal Fisheries Division.


Committee Agenda Item No. 7
Presenter: Joedy Gray

Regulations Committee
Briefing
Permits to Sell Nongame Fish
June 1999

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 6.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 8
Presenter: John Herron

Regulations Committee
Action
Petition for Rulemaking
Amendment of Commercial Nongame Regulations
June 1999

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 7.)


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