Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Regulations Committee

May 31, 2000

Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744


      7      BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 31st
      8   day of May 2000, there came on to be heard
      9   matters under the regulatory authority of the
     10   Parks and Wildlife  Commission of Texas, in the
     11   commission hearing room of the Texas Parks and
     12   Wildlife Headquarters complex, Austin, Travis
     13   County, Texas, beginning at 9:25 a.m. to wit:
     14
     15
          APPEARANCES:
     16   THE PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:
          REGULATIONS COMMITTEE:
     17   Chair:      Lee M. Bass
                      Carol E. Dinkins
     18               Dick W. Heath (Absent)
                      Nolan Ryan
     19               Ernest Angelo, Jr.
                      John Avila, Jr.
     20               Alvin L. Henry
                      Katharine Armstrong Idsal
     21               Mark E. Watson, Jr.
     22   THE PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:
          Andrew H. Sansom, Executive Director, and other
     23   personnel of the Parks and Wildlife Department.
     24
     25
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      1                   MAY 31, 2000
      2                      *-*-*-*-*
      3             REGULATIONS COMMITTEE MEETING
      4                      *-*-*-*-*
      5                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Good morning.  We
      6   have a rather full agenda today.  And I apologize
      7   for the delay in getting started, but we will go
      8   ahead and start.  The first committee to meet
      9   today is the regulations committee.  And in order
     10   to open our committee meetings, Mr. Sansom, would
     11   you please read our public statement?
     12                MR. SANSOM:  Mr. Chairman and
     13   members, the public notice of this meeting
     14   containing all items on the proposed agenda has
     15   been filed in the Office of the Secretary of
     16   State as required by Chapter 551 of the
     17   Government Code.  This is referred to as the Open
     18   Meetings Law, and I would like for this action to
     19   be noted in the official record of the meeting.
     20                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.  The
     21   first order of business would be the approval of
     22   the committee minutes from our previous meeting.
     23   Does anybody have any additions or deletions to
     24   make?
     25                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Move approval
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      1   as to submitted.
      2                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Second.
      3                CHAIRMAN BASS:  We have a motion and
      4   a second.  All in favor.  Any opposed?  Hearing
      5   none, motion passes.
      6                        (Motion passed unanimously.)
      7                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Mr. Sansom, would
      8   you do our briefing on the Chairman's charges,
      9   please.
     10        AGENDA ITEM NO 1:  BRIEFING - CHAIRMAN'S
     11        CHARGES.
     12                MR. SANSOM:  Sure.  Mr. Chairman,
     13   there are a number of items on today's agenda
     14   that relate directly to the charges.  The first
     15   charge, of course, for the regulations committee,
     16   is to implement the authority and direction given
     17   by the 76th Legislature and fully participated in
     18   the Sunset review.  I'm happy to report that the
     19   Sunset Commission staff has finished its work and
     20   we held our hearing last week in Austin and there
     21   were a number of you there.  And we want to
     22   express to you our appreciation of that.
     23                The final report of the Sunset
     24   Committee will be issued in June, and we look
     25   forward to that hearing as well.
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      1                Charge number three was to optimize
      2   license management in marine commercial
      3   fisheries.  And there are two items on your
      4   agenda today that relate to that, as specifically
      5   the shrimp license buyback program.
      6                You will have on your agenda today a
      7   proposed $3 surcharge on the recreational
      8   saltwater fishing stamp which has been published
      9   in the Texas Register for comment.  Funds from
     10   this surcharge would be directly to enhance the
     11   buyback fund.
     12                There is also a fee increase in the
     13   proposed regulations to be published in the Texas
     14   Register this summer for commercial fishing.
     15                Charge number four was to continue
     16   regulatory reform and you will see it present
     17   proposed amendments today to the exotic species
     18   rules to minimize and streamline recording
     19   requirements and to more easily permit valid uses
     20   of exotic species.
     21                You've directed us to seek
     22   opportunities to expand landowner incentives
     23   through the regulatory process and you'll hear a
     24   wonderful report today from our Managed Lands
     25   Deer permits TTT working group which will address
.0005
      1   this issue directly.
      2                Finally, the final charge to
      3   regulations was to maximize outdoor recreation
      4   opportunity, and it's not too early to remind
      5   everyone to mark your calendar for this year's
      6   Expo, which will be September 29 and
      7   October 1st.  Mr. Angelo is the chairman of this
      8   year's event.  Thank you.
      9        AGENDA ITEM NO. 2:  ACTION - 2000-2001
     10        MIGRATORY GAME BIRD PROCLAMATION STAFF:
     11        VERNON BEVILL.
     12                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Next we will do the
     13   migratory game bird proclamation.  Dr. Graham and
     14   Vernon Bevill.
     15                MR. BEVILL:  Mr. Chairman, members
     16   of the committee, my name is Vernon Bevill.  I am
     17   the program director for migratory wildlife and
     18   ecology.  Today we start the first of a two phase
     19   implementation for the 2000-2001 migratory game
     20   bird season.  In April we brought to you our full
     21   proclamation.  Today we will be acting on the
     22   early season species and the general regulations
     23   for migratory bird hunting.
     24                And we want to summarize the primary
     25   changes that we are proposing for this year's
.0006
      1   season that relate to the opening date of teal
      2   season, proposed change in Zone C of the Sandhill
      3   crane hunting areas, extending Sandhill crane
      4   hunting areas toward the coast, and adjusting
      5   other season dates to calendar shift.
      6                For teal season we are in a little
      7   bit of a perplexed situation this year, in that
      8   we know from our migration chronology data and
      9   from harvest data that the better teal seasons
     10   come when the opening date is later in the month
     11   of September rather than earlier.  This year
     12   the -- to get full weekends, we would have to
     13   open the teal season on September the 9th, which
     14   is about five or six days ahead of a more
     15   opportune time for hunting opportunity.
     16                So after consideration of this early
     17   opener, we decided to propose and to register
     18   opening teal season on September the 15th.  We
     19   anticipate a 16-day season.  And to get a 16-day
     20   season in, we would have to open it on Friday the
     21   16th and close on Sunday the 30th this year.
     22                Next year, the calendar will allow
     23   us to open on the 15th and close on the 30th in
     24   our regular weekend-type hunting.  So that's a
     25   primary change that we are proposing to maximize
.0007
      1   hunting opportunity for teal.
      2                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Is the migratory
      3   advisory committee in accord with that?
      4                MR. BEVILL:  Yes.
      5                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  It's actually
      6   opened on the 15th.  Right?
      7                MR. BEVILL:  15th would be the
      8   opening date, Friday the 15th.  Close on Saturday
      9   the 30th.
     10                For Sandhill cranes, we have worked
     11   through the central fly away council to work
     12   toward an expansion of the Zone C hunting area,
     13   the hunting closer to the coast of Texas.  And so
     14   we are proposing some changes there.  But first
     15   of all, let me just mention that our Zone C is an
     16   area that is significantly impacted when we go to
     17   the light goose conservation regulations.  We
     18   have a 37-day season opportunity for Zone C.  And
     19   last year when we went to the conservation rules
     20   the day after duck season ended, we effectively
     21   took over half of the Zone C Sandhill crane
     22   season away because of necessity to close other
     23   migratory bird seasons.
     24                So we've looked at this option and
     25   are proposing instead of a -- what we opened in
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      1   the register at the April meeting of an opening
      2   date of January the 6th and closing on February
      3   the 11th, we're proposing to drop back one week
      4   and open on December the 30th.
      5                If we, again, go to conservation
      6   rules, and Sandhill cranes are included in that
      7   closure responsibility, at our -- as we'll learn
      8   later this summer, then we would at least have an
      9   extra week of hunting opportunity for Sandhill
     10   cranes.  So that's why we're proposing these
     11   changes.
     12                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Vernon, is there
     13   something that prevents us from moving that even
     14   earlier so as to preserve more of the season?
     15                MR. BEVILL:  We work with the Fish
     16   and Wildlife Service on a migration chronology of
     17   whooping cranes.  And so to go back earlier in
     18   December might cause a little problem there.  And
     19   so we've talked with the Fish and Wildlife
     20   Service and the whooping crane committee and felt
     21   like that this was a reasonable alternative.  And
     22   we'll look at it this year and see how it works,
     23   and it's possible we could maybe move it back one
     24   more week but we want to get a little experience
     25   in walking that season back and not jump too
.0009
      1   far.
      2                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Is the Fish and
      3   Wildlife Service supportive of this move?
      4                MR. BEVILL:  Yes.
      5                CHAIRMAN BASS:  So you don't see
      6   this being a problem --
      7                MR. BEVILL:  We don't see this as a
      8   problem.
      9                CHAIRMAN BASS:  -- in getting
     10   through the fly away council and getting
     11   approval.
     12                MR. BEVILL:  Correct.
     13                And we have worked through the fly
     14   away council to try to expand the hunting area
     15   for Sandhill crane.  And so our preferred
     16   alternative for the expansion of Zone C or
     17   coastal area would be to take the two areas
     18   proposed there along the coast, on either side of
     19   Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, and incorporate
     20   them in Zone C, if the Fish and Wildlife Service
     21   allows this, which is -- we won't know until
     22   after the service regulation committee meets
     23   later this month.
     24                If they approve this proposal, it
     25   could be approved in several formats that I'm
.0010
      1   going to walk through with you briefly.  But our
      2   preferred alternative would be just to
      3   incorporate this in Zone C, if they allow a
      4   three-bird bag like we have in Zone C currently.
      5                A second alternative would be to
      6   make this a Zone D area because in the March
      7   meetings with Fish and Wildlife Service and the
      8   fly away council, there was concern about
      9   allowing a three-bird bag in this new area.  But
     10   they would not reduce our three-bird bag in the
     11   regular Zone C.
     12                So if they give us this option, but
     13   do not approve the full three-bird bag, we would
     14   propose to create a Zone D and go with either the
     15   two bird or one bird, depending on what the
     16   service regulation committee allowed.
     17                And then the other alternative is
     18   that they don't offer us this option and so we
     19   would be back where we are -- were last year,
     20   with just the Zone C season with the earlier
     21   opening date.
     22                CHAIRMAN BASS:  So, Vernon, whereas
     23   you feel comfortable that they will approve
     24   moving the Zone C earlier, it's unclear as to
     25   whether they will approve the --
.0011
      1                MR. BEVILL:  The service regulations
      2   group will meet later this month.  Our fly away
      3   representative at our March meeting said he was
      4   not uncomfortable with supporting the expansion,
      5   but he was uncomfortable with the three-bird
      6   bag.  And so that's got to be negotiated out.
      7                One of our negotiation points is the
      8   fact that we will -- to go to the conservation
      9   rule for snow geese.  We will probably be
     10   required to close Sandhill crane season early
     11   again.  And so we don't see the bag issue as a
     12   real issue.  But it's an issue in the minds of
     13   some.
     14                So I've provided a summary slide
     15   here for you to kind of work through the
     16   options.  And depending on the outcome of the
     17   service regulations committee, it could
     18   necessitate asking the executive director to
     19   utilize his authority to amend this proposal
     20   slightly, or any of our proposals that might be
     21   changed after the service regulations committee
     22   meets to conform to what the feds allow.  So I
     23   want you to be aware of that.
     24                For dove season we are proposing
     25   just a 15-bird bag/60-day season with the same
.0012
      1   structure as last year but just amended to the
      2   calendar shift.
      3                We have had considerable public
      4   comment on the teal season issue.  And as you can
      5   see from this slide, a strong support for our
      6   September 15th opening date.
      7                Mr. Chairman, staff would request
      8   that you would approve this set of
      9   recommendations and the motion that is offered
     10   here to go to the full commission for action
     11   tomorrow.
     12                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Are there any other
     13   questions at this time?  The Chair would
     14   entertain a motion in line with staff proposal to
     15   go forward to public hearing tomorrow.
     16                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  I so move.
     17                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Second.
     18                CHAIRMAN BASS:  The motion and a
     19   second.  All in favor?  Any opposed?  Thank you
     20   very much
     21                        (Motion passed unanimously.)
     22        AGENDA ITEM NO. 3:  ACTION - THREATENED AND
     23        ENDANGERED SPECIES STAFF:  JOHN HERRON.
     24                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Threatened and
     25   endangered species, please.  Thank you,
.0013
      1   Mr. Bevill.
      2                MR. HERRON:  Good morning,
      3   Mr. Chairman and Commissioners.  My name is John
      4   Herron, and I am the head of the Wildlife
      5   Diversity Program.  Today I'll be presenting you
      6   some changes that we are proposing to our
      7   threatened and endangered species regulations.
      8   This is a briefing requesting permission to
      9   publish for public comment.
     10                Basically there's two changes,
     11   series of changes we're proposing to our
     12   threatened endangered species regs.  First,
     13   updating the threatened and endangered species
     14   list themselves; secondly, updating our rules
     15   concerning the possession of threatened and
     16   endangered species.
     17                We're proposing to delist three
     18   species, removing them from our threatened
     19   species list.  The McKittrick pennyroyal is found
     20   only in Texas and New Mexico.  It was federally
     21   delisted in 1993.  We did not delist the species
     22   at the time, due to continued concern about the
     23   status in Texas.  We now recommend delisting due
     24   to newly discovered populations in the Guadalupe
     25   Mountains and documented evidence showing an
.0014
      1   increase in the known populations elsewhere in
      2   the state.
      3                Concho water snake was listed in
      4   1986, and has -- was proposed for federal
      5   delisting last year.  Data collected since
      6   listing indicates the population of the Concho
      7   water snake are stable.  And experts we have
      8   consulted with agreed that the species should be
      9   delisted.
     10                The jaguar is currently listed as
     11   endangered in Texas, but was never removed from
     12   our threatened list.  So this is largely a
     13   housekeeping measure.  Removing it from the
     14   threatened list, but it will remain on our
     15   endangered species list.
     16                At the same time, we are proposing
     17   to list three new species on our threatened
     18   species list.  The puzzle or Pecos sunflower.
     19   It's not only in Texas, New Mexico.  It's
     20   federally listed in '99.  Its decline is due to a
     21   loss of wetland habitats associated with desert
     22   springs.
     23                The Arkansas river shiner is found
     24   only in Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma, and
     25   Kansas, excuse me, and was federally listed as
.0015
      1   threatened last November.  This species has
      2   declined due to a loose of habitat and
      3   degradation of water quality.  While the species
      4   is more secure in Texas than in other states, its
      5   range has been reduced in Texas as well, and
      6   listing will keep State law consistent with
      7   federal protection.
      8                Finally, the Cagle's map turtle
      9   which is found only in Texas in the Guadalupe
     10   River drainage.  This species is being considered
     11   for federal listing, but there have been
     12   documented cases of commercial collection that
     13   could threaten remaining populations.  We are
     14   hoping that State listing, which will prohibit
     15   commercial collection, will give the Fish and
     16   Wildlife Service more time to consider whether
     17   the species deserves federal listing rather than
     18   forcing them to act too quickly, simply because
     19   they're concerned about commercial take, so...
     20                I do want to mention that these
     21   species that we are proposing for listing, that
     22   listing at the State level is very different than
     23   listing at the federal level.  Basically all we
     24   are doing is protecting the individual animals
     25   from take.  There are no habitat protections, no
.0016
      1   more broad ranging effects on landowners, which
      2   would be the case on federal listing.
      3                In addition, we are proposing some
      4   changes to our endangered species list.  The
      5   endangered species list is handled differently
      6   with changes made by executive order rather than
      7   by regulation.  But we did want to let the
      8   Commission know that we are proposing these
      9   changes as well.
     10                We are proposing to delist the
     11   Lloyd's hedgehog cactus.  This species was
     12   delisted by the Fish and Wildlife Service in '99
     13   due to evidence from genetic studies that it was
     14   not a true species but instead was a hybrid, a
     15   cross.
     16                We are proposing to list the Zapata
     17   bladderwort.  This species is only found in
     18   Zapata and Star Counties and was federally listed
     19   in '99.  It's been listed due to its restricted
     20   range and the threat of loss of habitat due to
     21   agricultural, urban, and recreational
     22   development.
     23                Regarding these species that we do
     24   by executive order, we are planning on holding a
     25   public hearing prior to the next commission
.0017
      1   meeting before proposing this species for
      2   listing.
      3                In addition, we are proposing
      4   changes regarding the possession of threatened
      5   and endangered species.  We want to make sure
      6   that our laws are consistent and fair to all
      7   people who possess captive, bred listed species.
      8   And currently we do have different rules
      9   depending on how a species was obtained.  I think
     10   the best example we have concerns the black
     11   bear.  If a Texas resident currently possesses a
     12   black bear, they have to renew a permit with us
     13   every year.  However, if an individual came from
     14   out of state with a bear that was legally
     15   acquired from out of state, they do not need a
     16   permit at all.  All they have to do is have
     17   paperwork showing that they legally acquired this
     18   animal from out of state.
     19                So we have an inconsistency there
     20   that we want to correct.  Basically, we're
     21   preparing to adopt these simpler requirements for
     22   both the residents and nonresidents coming into
     23   the state with endangered or threatened species.
     24                We don't think that possession of
     25   these species is common and so we think
.0018
      1   liberalizing this will pose little threat to our
      2   resident species.
      3                Currently I think the most important
      4   provision in our regulations is that no one can
      5   take, possess, transport, export, sell, or ship a
      6   threatened species unless they have legally
      7   acquired it from out of state and can show proof
      8   of legal acquisition through permit or voucher.
      9                However, there are still some
     10   problems in the regulation.  There is no
     11   definition in the regulation of what type of
     12   permit or type of proof is required.  There is no
     13   provision in our regulation for someone who may
     14   legally acquire a species from out of state where
     15   a permit is not required by that state.
     16                And finally, as I mentioned, the
     17   import of threatened and endangered species is
     18   less restrictive for someone moving to Texas than
     19   for someone who is a Texas resident.
     20                To address these, we're proposing
     21   six types of changes to our current regulation.
     22   We're proposing to make the requirements for
     23   endangered species similar to those for
     24   threatened species, making the regulations
     25   simpler for people to understand.  We're
.0019
      1   proposing to eliminate the permit requirement, as
      2   well as inspection reporting requirements for
      3   legally acquired species.  And instead, we are
      4   proposing that people in possession of a listed
      5   species simply have documentation that the
      6   specimens were lawfully obtained.  We think this
      7   will be a more simple and more consistent
      8   treatment.
      9                I do want to point out that these
     10   proposed changes should not have any effect on
     11   wild species in the wild.  We will continue to
     12   prohibit the possession of individuals obtained
     13   from the wild in Texas.  We are only dealing here
     14   with captive bred animals or basically animals
     15   that are taken from out of state.
     16                The three other changes:  We are
     17   also requiring that all captive specimens be
     18   permanently marked.  We are stipulating that
     19   release of these specimens that are in captivity
     20   is not allowed.  And we are also amending the
     21   regulation to reflect that the endangered species
     22   list is now done by -- is done by executive
     23   order.  We have a redundancy where it shows up in
     24   both executive order and regulation.  And really
     25   all we have to do is have it in executive order.
.0020
      1                None of these changes will reduce
      2   the protection of endangered species.  It still
      3   will be an offense to take an animal that's on
      4   the endangered species list.
      5                I do want to point out that we did
      6   have some public comment on this.  We discussed
      7   these changes, similar changes with the
      8   commission about a year and a half ago.  At that
      9   time, several members of the public requested
     10   that we allow the propagation and sale of some
     11   threatened species, particularly the alligator
     12   snapping turtle.  We have been visiting with our
     13   constituents, those commentors, as well as some
     14   of the conservation groups interested in this
     15   during the past year.
     16                And I just want to let y'all know
     17   that at this point staff is recommending that we
     18   continue the current prohibition against sale and
     19   propagation in Texas.  We have seen, really, very
     20   little demand for this.  We do have an endangered
     21   species propagation permit on the books which no
     22   one has taken advantage of in the past several
     23   years.  As I noted, we've had several individuals
     24   express interest in this, but there does not seem
     25   to be a large number of individuals interested.
.0021
      1   And basically, since sale has never been allowed,
      2   continuing this restriction should have little
      3   direct impact on Texans.
      4                We have had several conservation
      5   groups recommending that we not allow sale.
      6   Their feeling is that it would send a mixed
      7   message to the public, that on the one hand,
      8   we're telling landowners that these species are
      9   protected on their property and that, therefore,
     10   we should also be telling people interested in
     11   commercial sale that this is not allowed in that
     12   case as well.
     13                So in closing, we respectfully
     14   request the committee recommend that we publish
     15   these proposed changes in the Texas Register for
     16   public comment.  And with that, I'd be happy to
     17   entertain any questions.
     18                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Would you just
     19   clarify for me, what's your department position
     20   on the suggestion that we allow the sale of
     21   that?
     22                MR. HERRON:  Currently, the sale is
     23   prohibited, and we are recommending we maintain
     24   that prohibition.
     25                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  And
.0022
      1   propagation is also prohibited?
      2                MR. HERRON:  Yes, ma'am, it is.
      3                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Why is propagation
      4   prohibited?
      5                MR. HERRON:  Well, the way our
      6   regulations read, propagation has always been
      7   associated with propagation for sale.  And we
      8   have had instances come up where people have, for
      9   example, Texas tortoises in captivity, and they
     10   do what animals do.  I think our concern has been
     11   that by allowing, explicitly allowing
     12   propagation, you're in essence creating a
     13   potential market there.  But I think our biggest
     14   concern is with prohibiting sale.  Incidental
     15   propagation is really not a concern of ours, and
     16   I think we have some flexibility there if the
     17   Commission wishes.
     18                Certainly we'll see what the public
     19   comment would indicate on that as we publish
     20   this.
     21                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Is there a
     22   mechanism, for instance, if a legitimate desire
     23   by an institution or an individual was for
     24   propagation for, you know, a scientifically sound
     25   reintroduction, et cetera, that that can be done
.0023
      1   under the rules?
      2                MR. HERRON:  Yes, sir.  We have
      3   other permits that exist both for zoos, for
      4   scientists, and also for educational purposes.
      5   Both the zoological permit and the scientific
      6   permit do allow propagation for reintroduction
      7   purposes.  What we're specifically working with
      8   here is people who wish to propagate these simply
      9   for sale, as pets, largely.
     10                CHAIRMAN BASS:  So we're just
     11   dealing with a niche of it here, and there are
     12   other avenues for those?
     13                MR. HERRON:  Yes, sir.
     14                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Any other
     15   questions?
     16                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Move approval
     17   of the recommendation.
     18                CHAIRMAN BASS:  We have a motion for
     19   approval to publish this in the Register for
     20   public comment.  Second?
     21                COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Second.
     22                CHAIRMAN BASS:  The motion is
     23   seconded.  All in favor.  All opposed?  Thank you
     24   very much.
     25                        (Motion passed unanimously.)
.0024
      1                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Good presentation.
      2                Okay.  Mr. Sansom.
      3        AGENDA ITEM NO. 4:  ACTION - MLD/TTT
      4        WORKGROUP UPDATE STAFF:  BOB COOK.
      5                MR. SANSOM:  Mr. Chairman, as you
      6   know, at our last commission meeting we had
      7   scheduled to discuss items related to regulations
      8   of our Managed Lands Deer programs and TTT, trap,
      9   transport.  And we clearly understood at that
     10   time that there was a substantial amount of
     11   dissention among the affected community here
     12   about how these regulations would affect them,
     13   about their equity and their application across
     14   the state.
     15                We made the decision to pull those
     16   regulations from your last agenda and appoint a
     17   committee to study the issue in which several of
     18   you participated.  I'm happy to report that the
     19   presentation that Mr. Cook is about to make to
     20   you reflects the work of that committee.  And I
     21   would like to publicly thank all of the people
     22   who served on that committee, because they came
     23   here sometimes from quite a distance to meet
     24   twice.  And I would also like to pay particular
     25   compliment to Mr. Cook, who did an excellent job
.0025
      1   of facilitating this whole process.  And I think
      2   it is one that you will see in a few moments, we
      3   can all be proud of.
      4                MR. COOK:  Mr. Chairman, committee
      5   members, thank you.  My name is Robert L. Cook.
      6   I'm chief operating officer of Texas Parks and
      7   Wildlife department.  As Mr. Sansom pointed out,
      8   we had some disagreements about the Managed Lands
      9   Deer permit program and our TTT program, trap,
     10   transport, and transplant.
     11                And I guess I would say, just to
     12   start this thing off, that we were very, very
     13   fortunate to have a group of 20 people agree to
     14   serve on this committee.  And when they walked in
     15   the door, from day one, when they walked in the
     16   door, they were ready to go to work, ready to
     17   find solutions.  And I think that's why we got
     18   where we are.
     19                I believe that we do have a set of
     20   good proposals that Doctor Cooke, Doctor Jerry
     21   Cooke will lay out to you as the formal proposals
     22   that we can adopt, or however you would like to
     23   proceed tomorrow, with the MLD program, and some
     24   proposals that we can discuss and put out for
     25   Texas Register and finalize in August.
.0026
      1                The committee -- first of all, let
      2   me say again, we asked some of the members of
      3   some of these representative groups, the Texas
      4   Trophy Hunters Association, the Texas Deer
      5   Association, Texas Wildlife Association, all were
      6   very interested in this program.  And we asked
      7   those folks, who would you like to have on this
      8   committee?  And they made some very, very good
      9   suggestions, most of which we adopted and
     10   appointed those -- the chairman and Mr. Sansom
     11   appointed those folks to this committee.
     12                We had 20 members and we met here in
     13   this room on May the 2nd and on May the 22nd.
     14   Between those meetings, particularly between
     15   those meetings and immediately following those
     16   meetings, as Mr. Cooke can testify, we had a
     17   serious exchange of faxes and e-mails and
     18   telephone conversations because I thought it was
     19   important and I think the members agreed that
     20   communicating about this, talking about what did
     21   we mean, where were we headed, what's the best
     22   way to do this, was the best way to reach a
     23   solution, and that's exactly what we did.
     24                I think there were a couple of just
     25   absolutely essential ingredients that were
.0027
      1   identified early in the process.  First, that
      2   habitat and improving or conserving habitat for
      3   all wildlife is the cornerstone of this program
      4   and of our TPWD private lands program.  That was
      5   identified early in the process.  Committee
      6   members, 100 percent signed on, 100 percent
      7   agreed with that.  And once that step was taken,
      8   it was very positive.
      9                And secondly, the other, I believe,
     10   essential ingredient that, again, everyone agreed
     11   on was the property involved in these programs
     12   must have a TPWD approved wildlife management
     13   plan.  For example, on TTT, the release site must
     14   have an approved plan.  To get into the MLD
     15   program, there must be an approved wildlife
     16   management plan that our people have reviewed,
     17   that in some cases maybe the plan was prepared by
     18   private biologists or by the landowner himself.
     19   But that our folks have reviewed, have discussed
     20   back and forth with the folks, and have signed
     21   off on.  So those are two absolutely, I believe,
     22   essential ingredients in this process.
     23                CHAIRMAN BASS: The -- in summary, the pathways that
     24   this committee, that our committee is
     25   recommending, and again, that Doctor Cooke will
.0028
      1   line out for you as a proposal, involve three
      2   primary areas.  First, that the Managed Lands
      3   Deer permit program, the MLDP program, that we
      4   should evolve that program from a rewards program
      5   to an incentive program, a program that we had
      6   previously administered primarily as a reward,
      7   people who had done a really, really, good job
      8   for at least three years.  And we've got some
      9   people who have been in these programs 15, 20
     10   years.  They have done great jobs.  Private
     11   landowners have done wonderful work.  And we were
     12   using the Managed Lands Deer program as a reward
     13   for that work done.
     14                The committee and our consensus
     15   agreement is to move that up to evolve that to an
     16   incentive program, that not only rewards those
     17   people who have been in the program, who have
     18   done a good job, but also, just when that
     19   landowner out there shows an interest, almost
     20   irregardless of where he started from, and some
     21   of them their habitat situation is not good.
     22                Sometimes landowners, you know, make
     23   the decision that I'm going to do better.  I want
     24   to do better.  I want to do better things with
     25   deer, with turkey, with quail, whatever the
.0029
      1   situation might be, endangered species, whatever
      2   it is.  And will come forward to us, and their
      3   habitat may be in pretty rough shape the first
      4   time.  And thereby -- by making this program an
      5   incentive program, to give those folks as much
      6   flexibility as we possibly can and seasonal
      7   length and bag limit, those kinds of areas of the
      8   regulations that we can open up to them, that
      9   they can harvest their deer herd, they can manage
     10   that population, that they can have a very
     11   positive impact on that habitat right from the
     12   start and participate in these programs.
     13                So going from reward to incentive,
     14   again, I think was a key initial step.
     15                Secondly, the group agreed that we
     16   should recommend that we provide a level 2 in
     17   this Managed Lands Deer permit program.
     18   Previously -- and Doctor Cooke will again explain
     19   this to you in more detail.  But we had a level
     20   1, which was basically just a mechanism for folks
     21   primarily over in the Post Oak and Oak Prairie
     22   and East Texas who have a prerestricted bag
     23   limit, primarily a way for them to harvest does
     24   if they needed to and wanted to harvest does.
     25                By providing a level 2, you provide
.0030
      1   this step in there where people who not only need
      2   to harvest does, but who need to be harvesting
      3   some bucks, who need longer seasons, who need a
      4   more flexible time frame.  So the level 2 is a
      5   proposal that you will hear from Doctor Cooke.
      6                And our level 3 program would let
      7   people start their season at the early part of
      8   October, go through basically January, five deer
      9   bag limit, coupled with our bonus tags that give
     10   landowner maximum flexibility on bucks and does
     11   throughout the season.
     12                And finally, we agreed that we
     13   should provide a simple and quick method for
     14   landowners who want to trap, transport, and
     15   transplant whitetail deer at what we ended up
     16   calling an insignificant impact or a minimum
     17   impact level.  And where we ended up was -- what
     18   I ended up recommending to you and what you'll
     19   see here proposed today is, that's about a
     20   deer -- we thought that that level would be about
     21   a deer to 200 acres.
     22                In other words, if a landowner has a
     23   couple of thousand acres, that he could move --
     24   and he has a wildlife management plan in place,
     25   that he could move ten deer, something like that,
.0031
      1   up to ten deer, onto his property just by
      2   applying here, getting the permit back, and go to
      3   work, not requiring an inspection, an on-site
      4   inspection specifically for that TTT action.
      5                If he wants a higher -- if he wants
      6   to move a higher number of deer, then he would
      7   just go through the inspection process as we have
      8   done it.  That seemed to really provide a
      9   mechanism that a lot of people were interested in
     10   and that, again, I think, will be very helpful.
     11                In my initial proposal, I
     12   suggested -- because actually the question came
     13   up during the committee meeting and we didn't
     14   really discuss it out.  In my initial proposal to
     15   you, I suggested that we allow that freebee only
     16   one time.  And I think that is a good
     17   recommendation for us to consider and for us to
     18   think about.  And particularly as it applies to
     19   this year, I think on one piece of property, one
     20   stocking at that level is a reasonable approach.
     21                However, for future years -- and
     22   I'll talk a little bit more about this in a
     23   minute.  I suggest that we delay making a
     24   decision, that we just set that for this year and
     25   that we delay making a decision on that of how we
.0032
      1   want to proceed in subsequent years until we see
      2   how this year goes and what kind of results we
      3   have and what kind of problems we run into.
      4                Our next steps, as I mentioned
      5   earlier, you'll be hearing from Doctor Cooke
      6   about our proposals.  We can adopt, you can adopt
      7   the MLD proposals tomorrow.  We're going to
      8   request that we go to the Texas Register with our
      9   TTT regulation proposals, hear them out in the
     10   summer, talk them through with folks, and then
     11   come back in August and finalize those.
     12                In closing -- and, again, I cannot
     13   say enough to thank this group of folks that
     14   served on the committee.  Good people.  I knew
     15   every one of them from the start.  And I didn't
     16   know whether that would be good or bad, but they
     17   tolerated me well and facilitated this thing.
     18                They expressed an interest in coming
     19   back together.  It was a good mix.  They
     20   expressed an interest in coming back together at
     21   the end of this year, maybe at the end of this
     22   hunting season/trapping season, possibly in April
     23   or something like that.  And as the Commission
     24   wishes, I think that was a good suggestion.  I
     25   think that if we get that group back together and
.0033
      1   talk about how it went, what kind of volume of
      2   business we did in this program, what problems we
      3   had, and, again, look for solutions to those
      4   problems, I think, is worthy of consideration.
      5                If you have any questions, I'll be
      6   glad to answer them.  Otherwise, Doctor Cooke can
      7   give you the presentation of the proposals.  Yes,
      8   sir?
      9                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Okay.  The --
     10   sort of the situation relative, though, to the
     11   importation of deer and not requiring any
     12   inspection of the release site, that still
     13   exists?
     14                DR. COOKE:  That still the exists.
     15   It would not be under either of these
     16   proclamations.  If we address that, it would have
     17   to be under the scientific breeder proclamation.
     18                MR. COOK:  Mr. Watson brings up a
     19   topic that did come up in our meeting that I
     20   think is worthy of the Commission hearing about.
     21   The question of importation, bringing deer into
     22   Texas, was brought up and discussed at length at
     23   both meetings, and a lot of people have a lot of
     24   concern about it.  But in our documents, in our
     25   proposals, that section is not open for us to
.0034
      1   deal with at this time.  And the committee agreed
      2   that if we're going to work on that, if we're
      3   going to propose some changes there, that we
      4   probably should involve some other folks, folks
      5   who are directly involved in that program,
      6   scientific breeders and such, that would have a
      7   direct interest.  There was a lot of discussion
      8   about that and a lot of concern expressed.
      9                DR. COOKE:  Mr. Chairman and
     10   members, my name is Jerry Cooke, program director
     11   for upland wildlife ecology and I'll be bringing
     12   to you the staff proposals that were based on the
     13   MLD/TTT work group recommendations.
     14                As Mr. Cook pointed out, one the
     15   primary recommendations of the work group was
     16   that both programs should be incentive driven and
     17   habitat focused.  And on this, we certainly
     18   agree.  As Mr. Cook pointed out, we're hoping to
     19   meet with them again, late fall/early winter to
     20   recap, reevaluate and see if any refinements of
     21   the current proposals might be necessary.
     22   Basically, we consider progress on a wildlife
     23   management plan to be positive so long as the
     24   habitats are stable or improving.  And that's
     25   going to be a cornerstone for all of our programs
.0035
      1   related to deer.
      2                Under the MLD program, option one,
      3   as Mr. Cook pointed out, really has no proposed
      4   changes.  It's the current permit that we have
      5   for antlerless only deer.  Basically if a
      6   landowner has a current survey and an approved
      7   wildlife management plan, we'll issue antlerless
      8   permits based on that management plan.  It will
      9   have the county seasons and bag limits, but
     10   because these are MLD antlerless permits, bonus
     11   tags would be available to that landowner or
     12   hunter to utilize these permits.
     13                The option 2 under the MLD program
     14   would basically require a previous year -- the
     15   previous year's survey along with current survey,
     16   a previous year of harvest data, and two habitat
     17   management practices, which would be -- not be
     18   required until the permit was approved; in other
     19   words, this is what the landowner is agreeing to
     20   do under his management plan.  We also would be
     21   approving this permit basically for a three-year
     22   renewable window, to allow the landowner the
     23   understanding that he's got approval more than
     24   just for the single year.
     25                Under this option, the bag limit on
.0036
      1   the property would be five deer, no more than
      2   three bucks.  The buck season would open with the
      3   county season and would close the last Sunday in
      4   January.
      5                For antlerless only deer, on the
      6   screen it says October 1.  Actually, that would
      7   be the Saturday nearest September 30th, through
      8   the last Sunday in January, giving the maximum
      9   amount of time for the harvest of antlerless
     10   deer.  And bonus tags would be available on that
     11   property for all deer for which the permit was
     12   available.
     13                The option 3 would require two --
     14   the two previous years of survey data, along with
     15   the current survey, two years of harvest data,
     16   and the agreement would be for four wildlife
     17   management practices chosen by the landowner,
     18   based on the goals of their property, which would
     19   be, again, begun at the time that the permit was
     20   approved on the property.  And this also would
     21   have an approved three-year window.
     22                Some other recommendations that we
     23   included in this proposal package from the
     24   committee is a recognition that there will be
     25   times when management practices simply cannot be
.0037
      1   accomplished.  If New Mexico taught us anything,
      2   it's control burns don't happen during droughts.
      3   And certainly we would not hold a landowner to
      4   such a treatment when situations were adverse.
      5                Similarly, there are years when
      6   habitat conditions are so good that harvest
      7   simply can't be accomplished.  So this is an
      8   acknowledgment and a recognition of that in the
      9   renewal process.
     10                Also there will be times when the
     11   landowner simply doesn't wish to continue with
     12   management practices.  And under those
     13   circumstances, certainly they could move to
     14   another option within the program to alleviate
     15   whatever concerns they might have about the level
     16   of -- or intensity of their management on their
     17   property.
     18                And there also will simply be times
     19   when there are flagrant violations of
     20   regulation.  For example, overharvest of deer,
     21   taking more deer than they have permits for.  The
     22   committee recommended an extended period of time
     23   in which those landowners should not be allowed
     24   back into the program.  And our proposal included
     25   three years as a starting point or a stopping
.0038
      1   point.
      2                Under the TTT program, one of the
      3   agreements that we made with the committee was
      4   simply that if applications for TTT permit came
      5   on or before November the 15th we could guarantee
      6   them that we could review that application within
      7   45 days, usually much shorter than that, but
      8   certainly within 45 days.  After November the
      9   15th, our field personnel are pretty well tied up
     10   with hunting season obligations and other things,
     11   and we can't really guarantee it before that --
     12   within that period of time after that, but we'll
     13   certainly do the best that we can.
     14                All release sites within the TTT
     15   program must have an approved wildlife management
     16   plan on the property.  And also, as Mr. Cook
     17   pointed out, we recommend that we include in this
     18   proclamation the opportunity for what we call a
     19   minimum impact release, releases of less than or
     20   equal to a deer to 200 acres.  The acreage
     21   covered by the wildlife management plan that's
     22   approved on the property which would simply not
     23   require any field inspection at that time.  We're
     24   recommending that it be for one such release on
     25   the property.  However, that's really not going
.0039
      1   to affect this year since they can get one this
      2   year.  We can certainly talk about this further
      3   in the future.
      4                The committee recommended and we
      5   agreed and included in this proposal that all
      6   bucks moved between October 1 and February 10th
      7   of each year must have their antlers removed.
      8                An exception recommended by the
      9   committee was that if they were moved between
     10   pastures or between properties owned by the same
     11   individual, they need not be included in this
     12   requirement.  And so says the proposal.
     13                Also we recommended that the changes
     14   in notification be made, along with some other
     15   aspects of reporting.  For example, a person has
     16   to report within 24 hours of trapping but there's
     17   no outside on that.  If he reports it within 24
     18   hours, he's accommodated, even if it's only three
     19   weeks later before he actually does any of the
     20   business.
     21                The committee's interest was in
     22   having a warden available, if the opportunity
     23   arose, to either inspect trappings or releasings
     24   directly.  So we proposed that the notification
     25   be equal to or greater than 24 hours but less
.0040
      1   than 48 hours, to allow that kind of schedule.
      2                Also, recommendation in the
      3   reporting.  Currently, all activities on the
      4   permit is only required to be reported at the end
      5   of the year.  Changes that we propose would
      6   require that a daily log be kept that leads up to
      7   that final report for a warden to inspect, if
      8   required.
      9                And also, as you recall, when we
     10   discussed the marketing requirements for vehicles
     11   and trailers under the scientific breeder
     12   program, a similar recommendation would be made
     13   for TTT movements of animals as well.
     14                Also, in an oversight in Chapter 43,
     15   all the permits related to Chapter 43 require
     16   that animals inadvertently killed during an
     17   operation must be kept in edible condition, also
     18   must be donated in an appropriate sort of way and
     19   receipts kept as documentation of the animals,
     20   and we would propose to include that in this
     21   proclamation as well.
     22                Also, with the exception of
     23   Mr. Sansom, I don't think any of the other
     24   commissioners were here when we were seriously
     25   Sunsetting our regulations.  But when we did
.0041
      1   that, we had just adopted the TTT proclamation
      2   and so we did not include it in that Sunsetting
      3   process.
      4                So we are proposing to do the same
      5   Sunset operations.  We're moving everything from
      6   regulations currently in statute, doing some
      7   housekeeping changes to make it readable, and
      8   that sort of thing.  And that's included in this
      9   proposal as well.
     10                So we're asking for permission of
     11   this committee to publish the TTT proclamation in
     12   the Texas Register for public comment, and we're
     13   also asking that the committee forward the
     14   proposal for the MLD portion of the statewide
     15   hunting and fishing proclamation to the full
     16   commission tomorrow for consideration and
     17   adoption.  And if you have any questions, I will
     18   be glad to try and answer those.
     19                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  I have a
     20   question for Bob.
     21                MR. COOK:  Yes, sir.
     22                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Was there any
     23   substantial opposition from the committee to any
     24   of the proposals that you're bringing before us?
     25                MR. COOK:  Commissioner Henry, I do
.0042
      1   not believe there was.  For instance, just to
      2   give you an idea, we got into a discussion on the
      3   insignificant release, the minimum impact
      4   release.  And the discussion varied from setting
      5   that at a deer per 100 acres up to a deer to 300
      6   and something acres.  But that kind of
      7   discussion.
      8                The basic philosophy behind these
      9   proposals was, it was very positive.  And I did
     10   not sense -- well, in fact, you know, and had I
     11   sensed any clear -- you know, that any one of
     12   these issues was creating a real problem for
     13   anybody sitting around the room, I would have
     14   specifically brought that out.  And there was a
     15   time or two where, just to make sure that we
     16   understood and knew where everybody was coming
     17   from, that I would specifically call on someone,
     18   you know, to talk to us about how they felt about
     19   that or, you know.  But I do not believe there
     20   was at all, no, sir.
     21                CHAIRMAN BASS:  I would echo that.
     22   I think -- and I attended both the meetings.  And
     23   on the one hand, I don't think anybody got
     24   everything they wanted in terms of if you had
     25   asked them to write their wish list before they
.0043
      1   attended the first meeting, none of them would
      2   have written down exactly what Doctor Cooke just
      3   walked us through.
      4                On the other hand, I think that
      5   everybody left feeling that it was -- that
      6   basically they were happy and that they were
      7   supportive of what we came out with.  So it was a
      8   very positive and constructive process.  That's
      9   not to say there may not be somebody that -- out
     10   there -- there will undoubtedly be somebody out
     11   there that's not happy, but they weren't at the
     12   meeting.
     13                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Are there any
     14   significant potential problems with the idea of a
     15   landowner being able to move a deer between
     16   tracts that he owns without cutting off the
     17   antlers, between the dates mentioned?
     18                DR. COOKE:  The examples that was
     19   used by the committee in discussing that is,
     20   there are properties that are high fenced in
     21   Texas that has a road through the middle of them
     22   where intensive management has been effected on
     23   one side of the road and not necessarily on the
     24   other side of the road.  That would certainly be
     25   a null move, as far as we're concerned.
.0044
      1                MR. COOK:  I don't anticipate any --
      2   in fact, it was, again, one of those topics that
      3   there was quite a bit of discussion back and
      4   forth across the room.  Initially, when the topic
      5   first came up, I think it's worth noting that
      6   the -- that I thought that the majority of the
      7   committee was going to propose that we not move
      8   bucks at all, not at all.  And it kind of evolved
      9   from there.  And we got around to, okay, well,
     10   let's take the horns off of everything during
     11   this time frame.  And then, you know, again, I
     12   think showing the forethought of the group that
     13   you've got a landowner and maybe he's got a piece
     14   of property a mile down the road or it's
     15   separated by the highway in some cases, or maybe
     16   he wants to move just some deer from one side of
     17   the ranch to other on a big outfit, that that was
     18   probably an unnecessary burden.  And we'll be
     19   watching for problems.
     20                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I think that
     21   would be one that we'll want to keep an eye on.
     22                MR. COOKE:  Yes, sir.
     23                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  I don't have
     24   any comments, but I -- well, I do have a comment,
     25   how impressed I was with the hard work that
.0045
      1   everybody did, all the groups and the staff.  I
      2   think if this is an example of a group -- groups
      3   coming together and working in a very
      4   constructive way to accomplish something, thank
      5   everybody.
      6                MR. COOK:  Thank you.
      7                DR. COOKE:  Thank you.
      8                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Jerry, when you
      9   walked us through the TTT, you mentioned the
     10   application date of cutoff with assurance of a
     11   turnaround within 45 days, not to say that an
     12   applicant couldn't apply after that date, he just
     13   would not be guaranteed that we would be able
     14   to --
     15                MR. COOK:  Exactly.
     16                CHAIRMAN BASS:  -- respond that
     17   trapping season.  There was also some discussion
     18   of a similar approach to the MLD permit and a
     19   cutoff date with an assured turnaround, which I
     20   don't believe you walked us through this
     21   morning.  Did that --
     22                DR. COOKE:  We did not include it as
     23   a regulation, a proposal in the proclamation, I
     24   don't believe.
     25                CHAIRMAN BASS:  But is the concept
.0046
      1   still to --
      2                DR. COOKE:  The concept is still
      3   there.  In other words, if an individual waits
      4   until -- well, just a second.  I do recall some
      5   of this.
      6                MR. COOK:  I believe the discussion
      7   in the group was, shoot for something like an
      8   August 15th initial deadline and --
      9                DR. COOKE:  We could make that
     10   change between now and tomorrow, if the committee
     11   so desires.  And that was discussed, as Bob
     12   pointed out; that if they wanted to be guaranteed
     13   to have their permits in hand by October 1, then
     14   they needed to apply before August 15th.  And
     15   that was in one of the preliminary proclamations
     16   that we passed around.
     17                But what we wanted to do for you as
     18   commissioners is to provide you a regulations
     19   package that governs the program without
     20   including every single detail, including the
     21   forms and those kinds of things.
     22                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Right.
     23                DR. COOKE:  Because of the
     24   chairman's goal of keeping things nice and
     25   simple.  But that would not be unreasonable to
.0047
      1   include in the regulations, I don't believe, and
      2   it was certainly something the committee agreed
      3   to in both of the meetings.
      4                With, again, realizing that we're
      5   not providing a deadline for application, but
      6   just assuring them that if they want to have it
      7   by such and such a time, the only way we can do
      8   that is if they apply prior to this time.
      9                CHAIRMAN BASS:  If you apply after
     10   this date, we may get to you but you're at some
     11   risk.
     12                DR. COOKE:  You shall be at risk.
     13                CHAIRMAN BASS:  I think it would be
     14   reasonable to put it in the regs, just to put
     15   everybody on notice, so to speak, and put some
     16   discipline in the process both from -- from both
     17   ends.
     18                MR. COOK:  I agree.
     19                CHAIRMAN BASS:  So I think that
     20   would be good.  Any other comments?  The Chair
     21   would entertain a motion?
     22                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  I so move.
     23                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  So moved.
     24                CHAIR BASS:  Motion -- oops, excuse
     25   me.
.0048
      1                DR. COOKE:  We have two motions.
      2   One on the MLD to forward tomorrow and one on the
      3   TTT for Commission to publish.
      4                CHAIRMAN BASS:  So we have first
      5   motion on the MLD to go forward tomorrow.  Motion
      6   on the second.  All in favor?  Opposed?  And
      7   commission to publish on the TTT?  All in favor?
      8   The second, all in favor?
      9                        (Motion passed unanimously.)
     10                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Good job,
     11   gentlemen.  I think we've made a lot of
     12   constructive progress in this process, and I
     13   appreciate it.
     14        AGENDA ITEM NO. 5:  ACTION - HARMFUL OR
     15        POTENTIALLY HARMFUL EXOTIC FISH, SHELLFISH
     16        AND AQUATIC PLANTS STAFF:  JOEDY GRAY.
     17                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Harmful or
     18   potentially harmful exotic fish, shellfish and
     19   aquatic plants.
     20                MR. GRAY:  Morning, Mr. Chairman, my
     21   name is Joedy Gray, and I'm staff support
     22   specialist with the Inland Fisheries Division.
     23                Staff is proposing amendments
     24   concerning the harmful, potentially harmful
     25   exotic fish, shellfish, and aquatic plant rules.
.0049
      1   These amendments are intended to simplify the
      2   permitting process.
      3                The first proposed amendment will
      4   provide permits for removal of prohibited plant
      5   species from public waters.  Currently operators
      6   of mechanical harvesters have to obtained a
      7   research permit in order to remove prohibited
      8   species such as water hyacinth and hydrilla from
      9   public waters.  This amendment will allow them to
     10   obtain a permit without having to write a
     11   research proposal.
     12                The second proposed amendment will
     13   allow operators of wastewater treatment
     14   facilities to possess permitted exotic fish
     15   species provided they are used for water
     16   treatment purposes only.
     17                The third amendment will require
     18   permittees that import, transport, transfer, or
     19   sell triploid grass carp to submit annual reports
     20   instead of quarterly reports.
     21                And finally, the scientific name for
     22   several penaeid shrimp species referred to
     23   throughout the rules will be corrected to reflect
     24   the change in nomenclature.
     25                Proposed amendments were published
.0050
      1   in the Texas Register, and no public comment has
      2   been received to date.
      3                Staff recommends that the
      4   regulations committee of the Parks and Wildlife
      5   Commission refer the proposed amendments
      6   concerning harmful or potentially harmful fish,
      7   shellfish, and aquatic plants as published in the
      8   April 28th, 2000, edition of the Texas Register
      9   to the full commission for adoption with
     10   consideration for placement on the consent
     11   agenda.
     12                And I'll answer any questions.
     13                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  This is
     14   entirely to make things simpler and easier to
     15   manage for both parties?
     16                MR. GRAY:  Right.
     17                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I'll move
     18   approval of the recommendation as presented.
     19                COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Second.
     20                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Do we have a motion
     21   for second?
     22                COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Second.
     23                CHAIRMAN BASS:  All in favor?  Any
     24   opposed?  Thank you.
     25                        (Motion passed unanimously.)
.0051
      1                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Okay.  Item 6,
      2   proposed shrimp management proclamation.  In
      3   approaching this item, I would recommend and ask
      4   permission of Commissioner Angelo, who is
      5   chairing the finance committee today, that we
      6   combine this topic with Item 6 from the finance
      7   agenda, which is the proposed fee increase for
      8   the recreational fishing stamp, to accelerate the
      9   buyback plan.  Because I think most of us feel
     10   that this -- these issues are very related and
     11   intertwined.
     12                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I think that
     13   would be appropriate.
     14                CHAIRMAN BASS:  And so with his
     15   concurrence, we'll have a combined presentation
     16   and discussion at some length on these issues
     17   because they're kind of two legs to the same
     18   stool.
     19                And also, as part of our structure
     20   today, we have eight, I believe, speakers
     21   representing various constituencies that have a
     22   stake in this topic that are available for some
     23   public input to the committee at this time.
     24                I would stress that, you know, that
     25   while there are eight names that are available
.0052
      1   for public comment today, certainly public
      2   comment and input is something that is -- this is
      3   not the first nor will it be the last opportunity
      4   for it in this process as we consider these
      5   proposals.
      6                I know Hal and staff has worked
      7   through the Shrimp Advisory Committee and in many
      8   cases directly with stakeholders heretofore and
      9   getting us to where we are today.  And, you know,
     10   at the most, our actions today would be to go
     11   forward with publishing, as the law requires, in
     12   the Texas Register, some proposals which trigger
     13   a further round of public comment and input for
     14   the Commission to ultimately take into
     15   consideration prior to considering any rules and
     16   regulation changes to become finalized.
     17                So this is -- but one small step on
     18   a long journey.  And public input is something
     19   that will have many opportunities, both before
     20   and after today, and of course which we're very
     21   interested in in helping us understand all the
     22   nuances of this issue.
     23                So with that, I would turn the floor
     24   over to these gentlemen and ask you to please
     25   make your presentations, and we'll go from
.0053
      1   there.
      2                MR. OSBURN:  Thank you, Mr.
      3   Chairman, members.  I'm Hal Osburn, Coastal
      4   Fisheries Division director.  As you recall, from
      5   the April committee briefing under your guidance,
      6   staff has recently completed a comprehensive
      7   review of the shrimp fishery resources in Texas.
      8   That review included an intensive outreach effort
      9   over the last 18 months.
     10                Staff conducted over 30 workshops
     11   coastwide with hundreds of stakeholders
     12   participating.  We did hold six workshops
     13   specially conducted by an Asian-American
     14   facilitator to better overcome some of the
     15   language barriers we identified.  And as we enter
     16   the culmination of this outreach and review
     17   process, we recognize there would still be
     18   opportunity for at least three more months of
     19   public comments if you choose to go forward to
     20   the Texas Register as you noted.
     21                Shrimping does occur year round in
     22   Texas and there really is no perfect time to
     23   finalize rules.  But we would note that the gulf
     24   shrimping season is closed for the first half of
     25   the summer and the bay shrimping is closed in the
.0054
      1   middle of the summer.
      2                At your direction, we will schedule
      3   public hearings over a wide period of time in the
      4   summer to accommodate both of those periods when
      5   there's low shrimping activity.
      6                The basic conclusion of our review
      7   was that to protect the long-term sustainability
      8   of this valuable resource, there was a need for a
      9   more proactive conservation management strategy.
     10   Limited entry in 1995 was an important point in
     11   Texas shrimp management.  But it was never
     12   designed to be the only management tool needed.
     13   In fact, the department's limited entry report to
     14   the 76th Legislature in 1999, January,
     15   specifically noted the need for a thorough review
     16   of all shrimping regulations.
     17                With minimal funds available,
     18   limited entry buyback has not worked fast enough
     19   to reverse problems in the fishery.  But in
     20   applying a proactive management strategy, staff
     21   recognized a need to be sensitive to the social
     22   and economic needs of a very diverse shrimp
     23   fishing community.
     24                Coastwide in Texas, there has
     25   developed a large fleet of shrimping vessels,
.0055
      1   along with processing facilities and other
      2   shore-based infrastructure.  These entities
      3   provide a valuable service by bringing us fresh
      4   shrimp and bait.
      5                Protecting the historical
      6   participants in this fishery must also be a part
      7   of our strategy implementation.  And, in fact,
      8   that is the basic mandate given to us in the
      9   Commission's 1989 Shrimp Fishery Management
     10   Plan.  By balancing biological, social, and
     11   economic factors, we can achieve our goal of
     12   optimum yield.
     13                Staff recognized five basic
     14   components of a management strategy to accomplish
     15   this.  First, accelerate the license buyback
     16   program from willing sellers, thus reducing
     17   overall competition in the fishery.  Next,
     18   increase fishery profits by deferring harvest of
     19   shrimp until they have reached a larger, more
     20   valuable size.  More shrimp should also be
     21   allowed to spawn to increase annual abundance and
     22   ease the long-term threat of overfishing.  And
     23   optimum yield for other marine species can be
     24   enhanced by reducing bycatch.
     25                And, finally, where possible, our
.0056
      1   management strategy should seek to increase
      2   harvest opportunities and efficiency.  With this
      3   management strategy in mind and per the
      4   Commission's direction, staff developed some
      5   draft proposals for discussion with
      6   stakeholders.
      7                I need to tell you that your Shrimp
      8   Advisory Committee did generally reject those
      9   proposals, although there was distraction of
     10   alleged data conflicts between the department and
     11   the National Marine Fishery Service.  Those
     12   concerns were unfounded, and fortunately we were
     13   able to quickly resolve that and then proceed
     14   with a fuller discussion of the original
     15   proposals.
     16                I want to thank those folks in the
     17   industry who were willing to work with us on some
     18   tough issues on a short time period.  That
     19   constructive dialogue allowed us to improve the
     20   proposal substantially.  In fact, over half of
     21   the original proposals have been liberalized.
     22                I'm sure it's clear by now that the
     23   shrimp fishery has always had, by far, one of the
     24   most complex, complicated set of rules of any
     25   harvested resource in the State of Texas.  Every
.0057
      1   rule change will have pros and cons.  And a
      2   change in one part will affect some other part of
      3   the whole.  The challenge, obviously, is to find
      4   the best balance for all of our stakeholders, but
      5   even those decisions can be controversial.
      6                To achieve the goal the Commission
      7   gave us, staff does have a set of proposals to
      8   offer for further public discussion.  Let me
      9   start with some of rule liberalizations that we
     10   would suggest.  And I think you have a packet
     11   which shows specific proclamation language if you
     12   need to, to follow in that.
     13                These rule liberalizations would
     14   allow for greater shrimper efficiency and
     15   profits.  And we think that these would accrue
     16   positively to the industry.
     17                Greater profits is also the goal of
     18   establishing 100 count as a minimum size limit
     19   and redesignating some waters as nursery or bait
     20   areas.  These changes should better protect
     21   shrimp when they are smaller than generally
     22   targeted by the fleet.
     23                The upper coast bait and nursery
     24   areas, the crosshatched purple areas are current
     25   nursery areas.  Yellow is proposed new nurseries,
.0058
      1   and light blue is proposed new bait bays.
      2                Same legend on our lower coast.  And
      3   the green area near Corpus Christi is a special
      4   nighttime shrimping area in the upper Laguna
      5   Madre.  No changes are proposed for that area.
      6                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Hal, tell me again
      7   what the legend is of the colors.
      8                MR. OSBURN:  It is -- crosshatched
      9   purple is current nursery area, yellow is
     10   proposed new nurseries, and light blue is
     11   proposed new bait bays.
     12                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  And what's the
     13   green?
     14                MR. OSBURN:  Green is a special
     15   nighttime shrimping area in the upper Laguna
     16   Madre that is current law.  No changes.
     17                CHAIRMAN BASS:  The new bait bay
     18   would be -- what was it formerly or currently?
     19                MR. OSBURN:  It was a major bay.
     20                CHAIRMAN BASS:  So it would become
     21   bait only?
     22                MR. OSBURN:  Right.
     23                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  So there's no
     24   change in lower Laguna Madre?
     25                MR. OSBURN:  The lower Laguna Madre,
.0059
      1   actually there is a liberalization to allow for
      2   bait shrimping in the Brownsville ship channel
      3   that -- currently it's not technically allowed in
      4   there and we wanted to be sure that they could
      5   bait shrimp in there.
      6                All of the Laguna Madre, upper and
      7   lower, is and has been a bait-only area.  Nothing
      8   changes there.  It's always been a bait-only
      9   area.
     10                Let me move to the southern shrimp
     11   zone.  Staff does propose a closed area off of
     12   Padre Island out to five nautical miles, where
     13   smaller brown shrimp will be allowed to grow
     14   before migrating to the deeper waters where the
     15   gulf fleet is generally concentrated.
     16                We do recommend a close monitoring
     17   of this zone to see if our management strategies
     18   are being successful there.
     19                There are some moderate increases in
     20   trawl mesh sizes which should also allow smaller
     21   shrimp to escape for harvest later, and changes
     22   to the trawl bay and gulf winter season should
     23   increase survival of small white shrimp for
     24   harvesting larger shrimp in the spring and
     25   summer.
.0060
      1                Let me remind you that the Texas
      2   gulf waters, which extend out to nine nautical
      3   miles, are not protected by limited entry
      4   program, as our basis.  That increases the need
      5   for other methods of effort limitation, such as
      6   these gear restrictions, especially to protect
      7   spawning white shrimp targeted inside of five
      8   nautical miles.  So this would be a zone, the
      9   northern zone where the amount of trawls would be
     10   restricted.
     11                I will tell you that this is similar
     12   to current Louisiana law and is actually less
     13   restrictive than Florida law, which allows no
     14   shrimping inside of three miles on their beaches.
     15                Once again, we would recommend a
     16   close monitoring to measure the actual impact on
     17   the shrimp fishery and other near shore species
     18   of these gulf rules.
     19                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Hal, what
     20   were the limits on Florida?
     21                MR. OSBURN:  Florida has no
     22   shrimping allowed inside of three miles -- from
     23   their beach out to three nautical miles.  And
     24   inside their bays, they restrict all of their
     25   shrimp trawls to 500 square feet, which is a very
.0061
      1   small net.
      2                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Okay.  Now,
      3   the equipment that's used in this five-mile area,
      4   is that unique equipment to that area?  I mean,
      5   if it's displaced from there, can it be used
      6   elsewhere?
      7                MR. OSBURN:  Yes, it can.  The
      8   trawl -- in fact, the vessels that are shrimping
      9   there now with more than two trawls or more than
     10   130 foot of webbing could remain in that area
     11   just with those gear restrictions.  They can also
     12   take their current nets, which generally are four
     13   nets, up to about a total of about 250 feet of
     14   webbing, and they can shrimp outside the five
     15   nautical miles, which there are substantial
     16   populations of white shrimp and brown shrimp
     17   outside of five nautical miles.
     18                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  What kind of
     19   an imposition -- I mean, does it create the
     20   difference of a quarter of an inch in the mesh
     21   size for the fall bay season?  You have to have
     22   two different sets of nets?
     23                MR. OSBURN:  In the fall bay
     24   season?
     25                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Yeah.
.0062
      1                MR. OSBURN:  We're proposing that
      2   you actually have just one net in the fall bay
      3   season.  Right now they do have two nets.  They
      4   have an inch and three quarter webbing that they
      5   use from October -- August 15th up until November
      6   1st, and they switch to a smaller mesh size.  We
      7   would like to see that net used in the first half
      8   of the fall used in the last part of the fall
      9   season to -- which would allow some of those
     10   small white shrimp that are escaping to the gulf
     11   to actually escape, grow up, and be big white
     12   shrimp that will be available on the beach for
     13   the fleet when they move out with their -- in
     14   their two net 130-foot rule.
     15                It opens it up to some historical
     16   participants.  We have had a change in the fleet
     17   composition on the beach in this decade.  And
     18   this is an attempt to be a proactive strategy on
     19   a stock of shrimp that's being targeted very
     20   seriously right now.
     21                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Okay.  It's my
     22   understanding that the type of equipment that can
     23   get literally up on the beach is prohibited in
     24   Louisiana and some other states.
     25                MR. OSBURN:  The amount of webbing
.0063
      1   that we're proposing to be on our beach would be
      2   identical to what is allowed on Louisiana's
      3   beaches out to -- throughout their state waters,
      4   which go to three nautical miles.
      5                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  But prohibited
      6   in Florida?
      7                MR. OSBURN:  Prohibited in Florida.
      8                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  What about
      9   the other Gulf States?
     10                MR. OSBURN:  Mississippi and Alabama
     11   have a fairly short shoreline there.  They do
     12   have some restrictions that -- primarily they use
     13   a count size in their gulf.  We are not proposing
     14   a count size in the gulf.  Their proposed -- they
     15   have a -- I believe it's a 68 count, which is a
     16   very large -- well, very large shrimp relative to
     17   the 100 count.  It's larger than 100 count shrimp
     18   that they restrict their fleet to targeting
     19   there.  So I can double-check on exactly their
     20   webbing sizes required.  But they -- all the
     21   states kind of have a different combination of
     22   these things, depending on what part of the
     23   fishery they're trying to prioritize.
     24                COMMISSIONER AVILA:  These shrimpers
     25   are not having to go invest in new equipment, is
.0064
      1   what I hear you saying.  They generally have both
      2   these size nets?
      3                MR. OSBURN:  Yes.  And we would
      4   propose a long phase-in time period for getting
      5   any new nets.  And that's certainly something
      6   that we would like to hear public comment during
      7   the summer, to find out what is the actual
      8   physical fiscal costs to replacing nets or
      9   getting new ones.  I think we can be -- I think
     10   we should be sensitive to that kind of time
     11   frame.
     12                COMMISSIONER AVILA:  Thank you.
     13                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Well, it seems
     14   like to me, you know, we have two different
     15   challenges.  I mean, the gulf and the bays are
     16   entirely different.  The TEDs that we're talking
     17   about work in the gulf but they don't -- I mean,
     18   there's no effective TED for the --
     19                MR. OSBURN:  I'm sorry, what --
     20                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  I mean,
     21   there's no effective bycatch reduction device for
     22   the bays.
     23                MR. OSBURN:  Well, let me give you
     24   my last slide on the rule changes here, and see
     25   if I can answer some of that.  The -- we do see
.0065
      1   the need to protect some of these other marine
      2   species.  Mandatory bycatch reduction devices and
      3   turtle excluder devices are proposed.  The gulf
      4   fleet right now outside of State waters is
      5   required to use a bycatch reduction device.  All
      6   shrimpers, with some exceptions, are required to
      7   use turtle excluder devices.  Our basic proposal
      8   here is to add the bycatch reduction device into
      9   the bay fleet.
     10                So through our studies -- and many
     11   shrimpers are using them now.  We have not heard
     12   a lot of opposition to bringing in a bycatch
     13   reduction device.  And we're going to be very
     14   liberal in the definition of that bycatch
     15   reduction device to allow for new ideas.  And,
     16   you know, let's find something that works.
     17                Bycatch reduction devices are kind
     18   of like limited entry.  They're not the answer.
     19   They're not the only thing you have to deal
     20   with.  Right now we're estimating we're only
     21   excluding up to about 20 percent of the finfish
     22   and invertebrates from our bycatch reduction
     23   devices.  That's not necessarily high enough to
     24   achieve your management goals, but it is a
     25   start.
.0066
      1                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  How much do
      2   those reduction devices affect the efficiency of
      3   the shrimping?
      4                MR. OSBURN:  It depends on how the
      5   shrimper uses them and the particular device.  We
      6   have tested one we call the Sea Eagle that has
      7   had a zero loss of shrimp.  And that's what our
      8   data -- and we've tested it on board shrimp
      9   vessels.  There can be losses of shrimp.  There's
     10   no doubt about it.
     11                There is also a very good loss --
     12   relative to shrimp, a very good loss of finfish
     13   and other invertebrates, which are also part of
     14   that public resource we're trying to manage.
     15                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Are there
     16   places where both devices would be used?
     17                MR. OSBURN:  In the federal waters
     18   right now, TEDs and BRDs are both required in the
     19   gulf nets.  They would be required in our State
     20   waters as well, because we're basically matching
     21   the federal TED rules with our rules, to enhance
     22   our enforcement forcibility of that.  We
     23   currently do that through a memorandum of
     24   understanding with the federal agencies and the
     25   gulf fleet.  So this would just basically make
.0067
      1   the same law state law and wouldn't need that
      2   understanding.
      3                But, yes, some TEDs actually are
      4   certified as bycatch reduction devices.  Those
      5   will be included in our list of approved BRDs.
      6   So the industry continues to test them.  There's
      7   the Sea Grant folks, National Marine Fishery
      8   Service spending a lot of time and money trying
      9   to make an environmentally friendly device.  You
     10   will hear that the shrimp loss is substantial
     11   from some folks because of that.  And I would not
     12   argue that that can happen.
     13                Once again, you're trying to achieve
     14   multiple purposes and the -- but using a single
     15   device is possible to achieve both goals.
     16                VICE-CHAIR DINKINS:  Does it cut
     17   down on the time or does it increase the
     18   difficulty of shrimping, when you use the BRD or
     19   use both the TED and the BRD?
     20                MR. OSBURN:  Well, they're
     21   mechanical devices, particularly the TED, that
     22   can have -- it's a large device in the net, in a
     23   rolling sea.  Certainly folks have complained
     24   about it being dangerous, swinging around in the
     25   net.  We have no control over the TED laws at
.0068
      1   this point.  Those are federally mandated by
      2   Endangered Species Act.  So we're kind of going
      3   along with that.
      4                The BRD, though, is a much smaller
      5   device, much safer, easier to handle, and not
      6   subject to the same problems as a TED.
      7                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Well, I had
      8   asked Doctor McKinney about the BRD, and he had
      9   someone bring me the model of it.  And, you know,
     10   I've asked them to describe how it works, which
     11   they have done.  But in terms of the model and
     12   the actual device itself, how does this compare
     13   with what would be in -- being used on board?
     14                MR. OSBURN:  Being used on board
     15   where?
     16                COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Being used in
     17   the shrimping.
     18                MR. OSBURN:  Right now?
     19                COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  If we put these
     20   rules into effect.
     21                MR. OSBURN:  The fish eye is a
     22   common one that's used.  That's called the fish
     23   eye, and it is a common one that's used.
     24                COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  But how does it
     25   relate size-wise with what would be used in
.0069
      1   shrimping?
      2                MR. OSBURN:  What we would be
      3   using?  That would be an approved device.
      4                COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  This exact
      5   model?
      6                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  That size?
      7                MR. OSBURN:  Yes, yes.  Or close to
      8   it.  Maybe slightly larger for the number of inch
      9   openings for in the gulf.  But it's basically
     10   something you could hold in one hand.  That is
     11   the prototype that we hope to -- the Sea Eagle,
     12   which I mentioned, is identical to that, slightly
     13   larger but it has a flap over that large eye
     14   part.  When the water is pushing it through the
     15   trawl, the organisms escape.  When you slow down,
     16   the flap closes so that you have less loss of
     17   shrimp.  And that's the one where we've seen the
     18   least amount of shrimp loss.
     19                COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Where does this
     20   device go relative to the net?
     21                MR. OSBURN:  It goes on top, back
     22   toward the bag, between the front of the net and
     23   the very end of the net.  I think there may be,
     24   in your packet, some pictures in here.
     25                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Ms. Dinkins has an
.0070
      1   illustration.
      2                MR. OSBURN:  There you go.  Yeah.
      3   It's in the briefing book section.
      4                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Would you explain
      5   the rationale of the exception that -- for
      6   turtles excluding devices?
      7                MR. OSBURN:  The exceptions?
      8                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Yeah.  What is the
      9   rationale?  What is the genesis that --
     10                MR. OSBURN:  No mechanical retrieval
     11   device?
     12                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Yeah.
     13                MR. OSBURN:  Basically that's
     14   saying, if you're pulling in a net by hand, then
     15   you're pulling a small net and not for a very
     16   long time, and you will not have had a big enough
     17   net in the water long enough to have captured a
     18   turtle.  Even if you captured a turtle, it wasn't
     19   under long enough to have drowned and so you can
     20   get it out.  So one person pulling in a small net
     21   generally can't be a very big --
     22                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Can't drown a
     23   turtle?  I take it that that's consistent with
     24   the federal?
     25                MR. OSBURN:  Yes.
.0071
      1                CHAIRMAN BASS:  What percentage of
      2   the gulf fleet would that effect?
      3                MR. OSBURN:  Almost zero.  It's
      4   really targeted toward the recreational user,
      5   recreational net.
      6                CHAIRMAN BASS:  And our rules would
      7   have -- would require a BRD in that instance?
      8                MR. OSBURN:  No.  Our BRDs, if
      9   you'll look up there under the exceptions for
     10   BRDs, it will be the commercial bait trawl and
     11   recreational -- in the recreational trawls,
     12   because of the small size.  And --
     13                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Right.
     14                MR. OSBURN:  And anything under --
     15                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Those exceptions in
     16   the bay will exist for BRDs?
     17                MR. OSBURN:  Yes.
     18                CHAIRMAN BASS:  In the gulf, there
     19   will be no exceptions?
     20                MR. OSBURN:  No.  In the gulf you
     21   will also have that exception for a commercial
     22   bait license and the recreation.
     23                CHAIRMAN BASS:  If they're operating
     24   a bait license in the gulf.  But otherwise it
     25   would be --
.0072
      1                MR. OSBURN:  That's correct.
      2                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  The comment
      3   attributed to Doctor Zimmerman, concerning the
      4   lack of conflict between National Marine
      5   Fisheries and TPW, is that the official position
      6   at this point, of National Marine Fisheries, as
      7   far as we know?
      8                MR. OSBURN:  They have put that to
      9   me on their letterhead in writing with references
     10   to all of their bosses.  And I have spoken to
     11   Doctor Hogarth in Florida, who is Doctor
     12   Zimmerman's boss, who is Doctor Jim Nance's
     13   boss.  And we had these conversations back at the
     14   early part of this year.
     15                And I need to take time to thank the
     16   National Marine Fisheries Service.  They have a
     17   tremendous database.  They have been collecting
     18   in Texas, in anonymity in a lot of cases, that we
     19   have been able to use in our review.  And they
     20   have supported us in our concerns on the
     21   fishery --
     22                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  I mention that
     23   because in some of the letters, information that
     24   we received from various individuals, they take
     25   issue with this particular --
.0073
      1                MR. OSBURN:  I understand.
      2                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  And I wonder,
      3   too, what was the basis for the conflict?  I
      4   mean, how did that get confused?
      5                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  That's what I'm
      6   trying --
      7                MR. OSBURN:  My best answer is it's
      8   because us scientists spend too much time talking
      9   technobabble.  And instead of coming out and
     10   saying exactly what we're talking about, we use
     11   different definitions like recruitment
     12   overfishing versus growth overfishing.
     13   Recruitment overfishing, which is the point at
     14   which your collapse starts has not occurred.  And
     15   NMFS and Parks and Wildlife have agreed on that.
     16   But you can take his statements out of context
     17   and say, there is no overfishing when he's
     18   talking about recruitment overfishing, then the
     19   statement gains a new life that, well, he said
     20   there is no overfishing.  We both agree.  But
     21   that's not the point at which you want to start
     22   managing at recruitment overfishing.  You want to
     23   start it much earlier.
     24                There is a number of scientific
     25   literature that NMFS has authored that has called
.0074
      1   for reductions in the shrimping efforts in the
      2   bays and the gulf, clearly for economic reasons,
      3   for biological reasons.  If -- we are confident
      4   that we are not in conflict with them at all.
      5                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  This statement
      6   came out after the shrimp advisory?
      7                MR. OSBURN:  Yes, sir.
      8                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  At which time
      9   I think --
     10                MR. OSBURN:  I think they realized
     11   at that point that they couldn't quite stay on
     12   that fence anymore.
     13                DR. McKINNEY:  I think the issue is,
     14   scientists always want to leave options open, but
     15   when you manage a resource, you need to say one
     16   way or the other.  And realizing that this was a
     17   point that we needed to get past so we could move
     18   on to do something constructive.  Hal and
     19   National Marine Fishery sat down -- and believe
     20   me, there are many times we don't necessarily
     21   agree with National Marine Fishery.  But this is
     22   a time -- we need to clarify this one way or the
     23   other so we can either address the issues and get
     24   the signs straight or move on to how do we solve
     25   the issues?  And I think they did that.  I wish
.0075
      1   we had done it earlier, but that's when it
      2   happened.
      3                MR. OSBURN:  The other part of the
      4   strategy, as I mentioned earlier, we would
      5   propose September of 2001 before you move mesh
      6   size and BRD proposals to be sure we have time in
      7   the fleet to adapt to those things.  And I would
      8   look forward to more discussion on that.
      9                The strategy of the licensed buyback
     10   acceleration, obviously you can enhance that with
     11   the fee increases, and Doctor McKinney will be
     12   briefing you after my presentation.
     13                That does complete staff's list of
     14   proposals.  But I would like to speak briefly to
     15   the future.  Even as we debate these proposals,
     16   we know that creating the perfect set of shrimp
     17   rules is an ongoing process.  We believe we can
     18   build on this foundation.  We know we need to do
     19   a better job of communicating with all of our
     20   stakeholders.  We hope that the knowledge -- the
     21   knowledge base of folks that are in the room
     22   today, and others, can continue to be utilized to
     23   help us refine conservation rules in the future.
     24                Staff recommends close monitoring of
     25   our goal status as we strive toward economic
.0076
      1   benefits in harmony with ecological principles.
      2   We think that we can measure ecological success
      3   in this fishery with economic benefits.  Catch
      4   rates going up, sizes of shrimp going up, the
      5   abundance of shrimp going up means greater
      6   profits for our shrimpers.  That's our goal.
      7                And, finally, these rules assume
      8   that poachers are not the only beneficiaries.  We
      9   would recommend enhancing law enforcement,
     10   monitoring compliance and conviction rates.  And
     11   that will be essential to assure success.
     12                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  How big a
     13   problem is poaching right now?
     14                MR. OSBURN:  I would defer, I guess,
     15   that to Jim Robertson.  We have anecdotally heard
     16   of a lot of problems from different parts of the
     17   fishery.  But the exact amount is something that
     18   we think we need to do a better job of getting a
     19   handle on.  I don't know if Jim wants to speak to
     20   that.
     21                MR. ROBERTSON:  Jim Robertson,
     22   director of law enforcement.  As far as the
     23   shrimp rules as they're currently in place,
     24   compliance is really relatively high.  We do run
     25   across early, late, out of season, large, small
.0077
      1   trawls.  What these rules do is adds more -- or
      2   different trawl sizes, mesh sizes, different ways
      3   to use those things.  So it's a little bit more
      4   complicated.
      5                I do think that we can handle it to
      6   protect the resource.  But as far as compliance,
      7   compliance is fairly high at the present time.
      8                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  So you're
      9   saying that poaching right now does not represent
     10   a large percentage of the catch?
     11                MR. ROBERTSON:  I don't believe so,
     12   under current rules.
     13                MR. OSBURN:  Mr. Chairman, that
     14   concludes my presentation.  I'd be happy to
     15   answer any questions prior to making any --
     16                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  One of the
     17   complaints that we've gotten in communications is
     18   that the Shrimp Advisory Committee was not
     19   adequately used or communications weren't
     20   adequate.  Is that a valid complaint?  Is that
     21   what you were addressing when you said you were
     22   going to try to do better on communications?
     23                MR. OSBURN:  I think we can always
     24   do better on communication.  I will tell you, our
     25   strategy -- I mean, the Shrimp Advisory Committee
.0078
      1   is a -- is dominated by industry members.
      2                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Right.
      3                MR. OSBURN:  And we have had a lot
      4   of communication with them.  We chose to go out
      5   to the wider group of stakeholders, including
      6   those Shrimp Advisory Committee members, and did
      7   hold meetings with them and did get their input
      8   as a way of basically trying not to bias it, our
      9   outreach to an industry focused group.  Because
     10   the Shrimp Advisory Committee was industry
     11   focused.
     12                And perhaps one of our flaws is that
     13   we didn't sooner expand the scope of the Shrimp
     14   Advisory Committee to be more comprehensive so
     15   that we could have used them more as a working
     16   group earlier on.
     17                So, I mean, I acknowledge that
     18   flaw.  When we brought the Shrimp Advisory
     19   Committee in, we had done our scoping, and I
     20   don't think had left out any group, even those
     21   represented by the advisory committee.  It was a
     22   comprehensive package that we gave to them and it
     23   was fairly overwhelming.  We acknowledge that.
     24   And probably in a perfect world, I would have had
     25   more time.  But we did get good feedback from all
.0079
      1   of the stakeholders.  I guess the point is, not
      2   agreeing with a particular stakeholder is
      3   different than not taking input.
      4                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Right.  With
      5   respect to what the action is proposed here
      6   today, could you elaborate a little bit on what
      7   the process will be if this goes forward and the
      8   Commission tomorrow approves going -- publishing
      9   these rules as presented?  What opportunity does
     10   the -- do the stakeholders, the industry,
     11   whatever, have to affect the situation between
     12   now and the time they're finally adopted?
     13                MR. OSBURN:  We would enter into our
     14   normal department formal outreach methods.  We
     15   would propose some public hearings.  Right now,
     16   my staff has a suggestion of eight different
     17   locations, four of which would be held -- four or
     18   five on a coast-wide basis in late June, and
     19   another three to four in late July, so that we
     20   kind of break up the public hearing process and
     21   provide folks two different chances in case
     22   vacation or shrimping takes them away.
     23                And we would continue to gather
     24   written comment that we receive and then it --
     25   depending on the department's wishes on other
.0080
      1   mechanisms for reaching out and getting
      2   stakeholder input.  But we would have all summer
      3   long to basically collate the different public
      4   comment.
      5                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  So the plan
      6   would be to maximize opportunity for input?
      7                MR. OSBURN:  Absolutely.
      8                CHAIRMAN BASS:  The handout that we
      9   have that notes the changes from the initial
     10   proposals, these are changes that are after the
     11   Shrimp Advisory Committee met?
     12                MR. OSBURN:  Yes, sir.
     13                CHAIRMAN BASS:  And at the time that
     14   they disagreed with the proposals?  So these are
     15   changes subsequent to that meeting.  Has the
     16   Shrimp Advisory Committee had an opportunity to
     17   comment on the changes or the package as you're
     18   presenting it today, in a formal or informal --
     19                MR. OSBURN:  Yes, sir.
     20                CHAIRMAN BASS:  -- formal or
     21   informal body?
     22                MR. OSBURN:  Well, what we've tried
     23   to do is take a group of stakeholders, and
     24   through the -- since the Shrimp Advisory
     25   Committee met, as we've identified areas to make
.0081
      1   changes in, we've been faxing those out to the
      2   Shrimp Advisory Committee and other leaders and
      3   asking them for direct input.  So we have not got
      4   them back together in a meeting process.
      5                CHAIRMAN BASS:  But there's been
      6   informal, so to speak, input from those people?
      7                MR. OSBURN:  Yes.  My staff has been
      8   holding meetings.  We've been having real
      9   constructive dialogue on getting some very
     10   intense feedback from the different leader
     11   groups.
     12                CHAIRMAN BASS:  And obviously if we
     13   were to go forward with publishing this for
     14   further comment between now and August, there
     15   would be opportunity for a formal meeting of that
     16   body?
     17                MR. OSBURN:  Staff would be open to
     18   any group that wants to have us meet with them.
     19   And we would also look to you and Executive
     20   Director on guidance for how to fulfill -- bring
     21   other stakeholders into the process.
     22                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Okay.  Go ahead.
     23                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  I wanted to
     24   ask you, Mr. Osburn, about the changes between
     25   the original proposal and what you've now brought
.0082
      1   before us.  Because it looks to me like there are
      2   some that are rather significant.  Such as in one
      3   version it had 50 heads per pound as the proposal
      4   and another it's 100 heads per pound.  And then
      5   it looked like there was some noticeable changes
      6   in the proposal on the mesh size limits.  And I
      7   just wondered if you could give us maybe four or
      8   five of the major modifications that you made
      9   between the original proposal and now that you
     10   have handed out for review and comment, even
     11   though not officially.
     12                MR. OSBURN:  Right.  And you
     13   recognize that a 50 count minimum size is a
     14   larger shrimp than 100 count?
     15                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Yes.
     16                MR. OSBURN:  So those represent
     17   liberalizations.  Kind of back to the, you know,
     18   we're in this for the long-term and wanting to
     19   find rules that had the most conservation benefit
     20   with the least impact on the industry, is our
     21   goal now.  And so those -- basically we had
     22   people convince us in the industry that this was
     23   not that important at this time; that we would
     24   still get a conservation benefit.
     25                For example, if you have a mesh
.0083
      1   size, when we retain the inch and three quarters
      2   mesh size in November, that's going to exclude a
      3   lot of those small shrimp.  So forcing them down,
      4   keeping the 50 count on there, would have been
      5   perhaps somewhat duplicative of that, and the 100
      6   count would have allowed for a reasonable harvest
      7   with reasonable escapement.
      8                So, you know, these are judgments
      9   between a lot of competing interests.  And we do
     10   not have a magic formula.  But we were instructed
     11   by our executive director to be sensitive to
     12   their needs and I think my staff did that.
     13                COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Well, I saw
     14   those two.  But what are some others where you
     15   liberalized the proposal from what you originally
     16   had?
     17                MR. OSBURN:  Probably one of the
     18   most significant was to offer the industry a
     19   winter bay food season in February, March, and
     20   April that they had not had before, on the upper
     21   coast; primarily because we see, once again, as a
     22   comprehensive package, some of the conservation
     23   benefits on the white shrimp on the beach that we
     24   will be protecting with the gear restrictions
     25   allows for an additional harvest in the bays.
.0084
      1   And that would -- that winter season on the upper
      2   coast is going to allow additional harvest of
      3   white shrimp.  It would probably not be possible
      4   unless you were getting some conservation on
      5   those white shrimp when they're spawning on the
      6   beach.  So it gave us an opportunity to look at
      7   an -- you know, the folks wanting to make --
      8   wanting to make some money during that time
      9   period.  They have all the way until May 15th
     10   before their food season opens.  They have never
     11   had that season.  We do recommend monitoring it.
     12   We only offered it as a half a night because of
     13   the concerns about the number of shrimp that
     14   could be taken during that time period.  And that
     15   is a liberalization.
     16                The liberalization of not having a
     17   count size on the bait shrimp -- or not having a
     18   requirement to keep 50 percent of your bait alive
     19   is also an efficiency liberalization, where folks
     20   can bring in a better quality shrimp.
     21                It does -- it does give some more
     22   incentive to the abuse of that bait license.  And
     23   staff has been criticized for that con.  But the
     24   pro is certainly real in that it provides -- they
     25   can catch them probably easier, faster, keep them
.0085
      1   in a higher quality and make more money.  And
      2   that's part of our mandate, too.
      3                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Could you
      4   suggest one or two proposals that you've brought
      5   us today that are the most difficult for the
      6   industry people, which one or two might be the
      7   ones they would be most concerned about?
      8                MR. OSBURN:  I know that on the
      9   upper coast, the gear restriction takes some of
     10   the boats that have been built recently.  They're
     11   very large, expensive boats that had spent a lot
     12   of time on that beach.  It will make them
     13   reassess how much net they can use or where they
     14   will use those big boats.  And I'm sure that
     15   that's going to be problematic to that
     16   industry -- that portion of the industry.
     17                I'm not convinced that they cannot
     18   still be successful economically with those
     19   vessels in waters outside of that five nautical
     20   miles, as they do in other parts of the gulf.
     21                I know that the -- that the gulf
     22   closure in this -- off of Padre Island is going
     23   to have some local displacement of some folks who
     24   maybe slipped into that zone and took shrimp
     25   that -- and they were going to be complaining
.0086
      1   about those shrimp migrating down into Mexico.
      2   Of course, our response has been, shrimp also
      3   migrate up from Mexico.  But the two beach areas
      4   are new restrictions.  I will tell you that this
      5   department has never regulated the gulf shrimp
      6   fishery outside of pretty much their general
      7   desire on a particular rule.  We've accommodated
      8   that.  And there's not been a lot of conservation
      9   rules forced upon them in the gulf.  This would
     10   be that first set.
     11                In the bays, I see -- I see folks
     12   probably not wanting to go up to a larger mesh
     13   size because of the loss of shrimp; that they're
     14   not sure that they're actually going to catch
     15   them when they escape and grow and are available
     16   next week.  They would prefer the -- you know,
     17   the shrimp in hand.  And that -- so the mesh size
     18   there.
     19                And I suspect some of the nursery
     20   areas, folks are going to -- going to recall that
     21   at some point during the year they did catch good
     22   shrimp in that area and they would not want to
     23   lose that opportunity.  But that comes to mind.
     24                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Thank you.
     25                CHAIRMAN BASS:  If I could, maybe we
.0087
      1   could ask Doctor McKinney to walk us through the
      2   issues concerning the recreational side of the
      3   equation, and then maybe get some opportunity for
      4   some comment from the representatives of the
      5   public.  And we can come back after that with
      6   further discussion or questions on these areas.
      7                DR. McKINNEY:  Yes, sir, Mr.
      8   Chairman, I'll be glad to do that.  If we'll pull
      9   up the next item on the buyback.
     10                Mr. Chairman, for the record, I'm
     11   Larry McKinney, Senior Director for aquatic
     12   resources, Parks and Wildlife.  This item, as the
     13   chairman noted before, we pulled up out of the
     14   finance committee for discussion in conjunction
     15   with the shrimp rules, these statewide hunting
     16   and fishing proclamation license buyback.
     17                Just note, these rules have been put
     18   out for public comment and your recommendations
     19   today would move this forward to the Commission
     20   on Thursday for implementation and action.
     21                A summary of what the proposal is,
     22   licensed buyback options.  We had briefed the
     23   Commission before.  Our goal in the buyback
     24   program is to retire up to 50 percent of the
     25   shrimp licenses and as part of this proposal, we
.0088
      1   did include the ability to include crab and
      2   finfish licenses as well in the buyback.  But
      3   certainly our focus has been and would continue
      4   to be a retirement of the shrimping licenses.
      5                Basically what the proposal does, it
      6   increases the saltwater stamp only.  It does not
      7   increase the fishing license, but for only those
      8   folks that buy the saltwater fishing stamp
      9   separately.
     10                It is set for five years, it is in
     11   place for five years.  It sunsets after that with
     12   our efforts to meet our 50 percent goal.
     13   Generates some $7 million over that period.  And,
     14   again, we would have the ability to, as the
     15   market dictates and situations go, to retire
     16   other licenses as well.  But the focus is on the
     17   shrimp.
     18                Some of the issues that you will
     19   hear and probably have heard about, I'll quickly
     20   cover those.  One is a concern, and we've talked
     21   about that from the beginning, the concern that,
     22   well, if you put a surcharge in place, it will
     23   just continue afterwards and they will always
     24   find use for money.  To address that issue, the
     25   proclamation would sunset this proposal in 2005.
.0089
      1                A desire for clear and measurable
      2   goals to see if we're making progress toward what
      3   we're trying to achieve.  And as we stated
      4   before, our goal is to retire 50 percent of those
      5   licenses.  We would certainly propose, and at the
      6   pleasure of the Commission, more often, but
      7   obviously annually report on where we are in
      8   achieving that goal and moving forward.
      9                Concerns about the fact of linking
     10   conservation efforts and rules and regs to shrimp
     11   management, a topic of which Hal has been talking
     12   about.  As Hal mentioned, it does need to be a
     13   combination of these things.  Our buyback program
     14   has not moved as quickly as it should.  This is
     15   part of an effort to accelerate it.  But during
     16   that period, we certainly need to look at efforts
     17   to not impact only shrimp but obviously what this
     18   is aimed at.  Some of it is the impact of
     19   shrimping on other fisheries, recreational
     20   fishing and others.
     21                We will continue to look through
     22   this process for other funds, sources of federal
     23   funding that we can do to maximize -- to increase
     24   our ability to buy those licenses back and reduce
     25   the burden on the recreational fisheries.  We
.0090
      1   will continue to do that.
      2                A summary of comments.  Since the
      3   proposal was published in the Texas Register,
      4   we've had very little comment, 12, actually,
      5   comments during that time.  Seven for and five
      6   against.  As I reported to you in our briefing
      7   before, we had had almost a thousand comments.  I
      8   think that was primarily due to our outdoor
      9   media, writing stories about it and those types
     10   of things.  We had quite a few comments.
     11                What I did was -- have done here is
     12   extract some information from the ongoing
     13   saltwater fishing survey.  At our last briefing
     14   we had about 400 responses.  We now have all
     15   those responses in, some 887 responses.  So I
     16   thought it would be instructive to take a look at
     17   our recreational anglers' feelings in a more
     18   structured context that has some significance to
     19   it, a local significance to it.
     20                And basically these were the
     21   results.  They were asked:  Would you support a
     22   $1 increase, 71 percent; a $2 increase, 62
     23   percent; a $3 increase, 65 percent, with a margin
     24   of error of five to six percent around that.  So
     25   basically the comments have held pretty much as I
.0091
      1   reported to you at our earlier briefing, 60 to 70
      2   percent in support of proceeding with the
      3   program.
      4                Plus our staff recommendation would
      5   be that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
      6   adopt the changes as noted here on the slide.
      7   And I detailed it at the bottom there.
      8   Certainly, Mr. Chairman and members, I'm open for
      9   any questions or comments that you may have at
     10   this time.
     11                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Yeah.  I'd like to
     12   ask about the 50 -- the goal of 50 percent.  How
     13   did we come to that, and what do we -- I mean,
     14   obviously it's a nice, round number.  But how do
     15   we -- how do we come to that goal and what do we
     16   see that achieving versus some other level?
     17                DR. McKINNEY:  I'll let Hal expand
     18   on it.  But basically we looked back at where our
     19   fleet was at a certain point in time, and where
     20   we thought that it would be sustainable.  And
     21   that's basically the number we picked.  But if
     22   you want to give any details on it.
     23                MR. OSBURN:  We have resisted trying
     24   to put a number out there because we think so
     25   many things, that the way the fleet operates,
.0092
      1   efficiency changes can change where you really
      2   want to be.
      3                So the 50 percent does match up with
      4   the reduction in catch rates of about 50 percent
      5   since the '70s.  And that reduction in catch
      6   rates has gone along with the increase in
      7   effort.  So as you're reducing effort through
      8   buy-backs, you are increasing -- you should be
      9   increasing catch rates.  And if you got back to
     10   the catch rates in the '70s, whether that's going
     11   to actually correspond with half as many
     12   shrimpers, it's only speculation now.  But that
     13   would be at least that amount of money would give
     14   us some point to go and measure that.
     15                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Let me ask you about
     16   reduction of license versus reduction of effort.
     17   To date, as I recall, we've retired some 15, 16
     18   percent of the licenses.  I think in previous
     19   discussions, much harder to measure, but you told
     20   me that you felt that that probably represented a
     21   reduction in effort, somewhere between five and
     22   ten percent.  Would you expect that same ratio of
     23   license reduction to effort reduction on a whole
     24   if -- at the 50 percent level?  Or what's -- it's
     25   really an -- effort is what has a conservation
.0093
      1   impact, not actual license, so --
      2                DR. McKINNEY:  That's what we're
      3   going to be looking for.  You know, our staff to
      4   this point says that for every three license we
      5   retired, even to this point, it's two boats,
      6   basically.  For every three licenses, we've
      7   gotten about two boats.
      8                And a big part of the licenses --
      9   and, Hal, step in here if I'm misstating here.
     10   When we put the limited entry program into place
     11   and kind of set up what's the definition of
     12   limited entry, it was a pretty liberal package of
     13   that definition, who was in the fishery.  In
     14   fact, as my staff told me, it was broader than
     15   what we originally conceived.  We wanted to start
     16   more narrow so we could have an effect more
     17   quickly.  And I that's one of the things, I
     18   think, that has contributed not only to the fact
     19   that we haven't made more progress on the
     20   buyback, and also the fact that we need to look
     21   at the conservation rules because we started with
     22   a fairly liberal package of who was in that
     23   limited entry program.
     24                So what we have bought back now has
     25   been, I think, those peripheral but marginal ones
.0094
      1   what may have -- you want to call it speculated.
      2   We're holding those licenses in speculation of
      3   buying back and those types of things.  So as we
      4   now cut those down, I think we're going to start
      5   getting into the meat of the industry folks that
      6   really have been trying to make a living at this,
      7   and doing it, and trying to look for a way out.
      8   So I gave you a long answer.  I think my point
      9   is, as you would expect, as we buy more into the
     10   real fleet our ability to reduce efforts and
     11   number of boats on the water, we'll enhance
     12   increase.
     13                CHAIRMAN BASS:  This is, in some
     14   sense, a different way of asking the same
     15   question.  I've had some significant players and
     16   I guess some people that you would say have, in
     17   many respects, been in leadership roles of the
     18   recreational fishery and their conservation
     19   efforts over the last ten or 20 years, espouse
     20   that their personal belief is that the buyback
     21   really does not represent a conservation effort
     22   in that what will ultimately happen is that fewer
     23   license holders will simply be able to have a
     24   larger share of the same pie.  They will be
     25   financially healthier and -- no doubt about that,
.0095
      1   and that those goals will be met, but that
      2   basically the commercial fishery would be the
      3   primary beneficiary, and that the recreational
      4   fisherman won't see any significant conservation
      5   efforts or results from a buyback simply because
      6   the State -- the pie won't reduce in size, it's
      7   just fewer people having to share it.  How would
      8   you-all respond to that issue?
      9                DR. McKINNEY:  My response would be
     10   to a certain extent, you know, that's correct;
     11   that as you buy a license back and you reduce the
     12   group that's left, they're going to become more
     13   efficient, more profitable, and that's fine.  But
     14   then you reach the point where there is only -- I
     15   mean, only so many boats can operate.  You can
     16   only have so many boats out there, for one thing,
     17   taking advantage of the fleet.
     18                And as they become more profitable
     19   and sustainable, then a lot of the pressures
     20   begin to disappear.  For example, right now, I
     21   think, at least my view is that one of the main
     22   problems we have is the fact that because of new
     23   technologies with peelers and all that, that you
     24   could take any size type of shrimp, where
     25   historically we didn't do that.  It didn't
.0096
      1   happen, it was not very profitable.
      2                And a lot of the regs that Hal are
      3   talking about are things that the shrimpers
      4   frankly did voluntarily back when they could,
      5   frankly, afford to do that, do take an action to
      6   increase their profits and things like that.
      7                So I think to a certain extent, yes,
      8   it is that.  But as that fleet becomes profitable
      9   and reduced in size, you're going to get those
     10   benefits.  It can't help but accrue.  Now, you do
     11   have to keep conservation measures into place.
     12   You're not -- I don't think it was ever
     13   contemplated that you say, okay, we have 500
     14   shrimpers, go do whatever you want to do, type of
     15   thing.  So it's going to be a combination of
     16   those things.
     17                But when you reduce the number of
     18   boats that you have, as we're doing, for example,
     19   two boats for every three licenses, you're going
     20   to have some conservation benefits.  It's going
     21   to accrue.  I wish we could tell specifically
     22   what they are.  But some of that we're going to
     23   have to try.
     24                COMMISSIONER AVILA:  Well, is not
     25   the -- through reduction of the number of nets
.0097
      1   you can use in nautical miles going to reduce the
      2   efforts as well by definition?
      3                DR. McKINNEY:  Oh, clearly those
      4   do.  And, of course, a number of those rules had
      5   to do with the gulf fleet, for which we have no
      6   limited entry program.  I think that's the
      7   important thing to note what we're talking about
      8   in the bay industry.  That's the only place we
      9   have the limited entry.  That's the only place we
     10   have the opportunity to take actions that are
     11   not, quote/unquote, regulatory.  In the gulf
     12   fleet, we don't have a limited entry program.
     13   The only tool we have for conversation and for
     14   taking actions for where that industry affects
     15   other industries is the regulatory one.  It's the
     16   only tool we have.
     17                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Is it
     18   realistic to think that this amount of money will
     19   actually make it possible to buyback enough
     20   licenses and to effectively cause some reduction
     21   in effort?  With the cost of equipment that is
     22   being represented to us, and boats and everything
     23   that go with it, is it a realistic thing to think
     24   that we'll have enough money to actually effect
     25   the impact?
.0098
      1                DR. McKINNEY:  Well, we're in kind
      2   of new ground.  There's a certain element of that
      3   that we can't give you the assurance.  We think
      4   that's the case, from what we've seen.  I would
      5   tell you from, Mr. Angelo, since we're both from
      6   West Texas and I've been in the farming business
      7   and know what -- and there's a lot of analogies.
      8   Believe me, there's a lot of analogies between
      9   farming and shrimping, in particular,
     10   overcapitalization and dependence on rain and all
     11   that type of thing.  I know that if my father had
     12   that opportunity about ten years ago, he'd have
     13   been gone, in reality, just because -- but there
     14   was no option there.  And, of course, the
     15   difference being is, what we're talking about
     16   here is a public resource where the extraction of
     17   the shrimp from that resource can have an effect
     18   on lots of other users, recreational or
     19   endangered species or whatever.  So my impression
     20   is yes.  I think if we can -- combined with some
     21   other actions, frankly, that the legislature, and
     22   talking with staff, are contemplating about
     23   joining our buyback program with access to
     24   retraining programs and other State and federal
     25   programs to help do that, I think it very much
.0099
      1   will.  Because a lot of the folks there are very
      2   much like my father and those types of things.
      3   They have all -- they're totally invested in it.
      4   They have no escape route.  Any kind of escape
      5   that would help set them up to move into
      6   something else, at least for their families,
      7   as -- could be important.  That's the only answer
      8   I could give you.
      9                MR. OSBURN:  And to follow up on
     10   that, I mean, one of the -- it's nice to be on
     11   the cutting edge.  One of the down sizes is, you
     12   don't have a real clear vision of the future with
     13   lots of examples.
     14                We think this model is worth trying,
     15   you know.  And you shoot -- I mean, you bring
     16   money into a situation.  We think it's got to
     17   help.  The alternatives were just unpalatable in
     18   terms of -- for example, Florida passed a
     19   constitutional amendment through a public voting
     20   process to ban, you know, their shrimp fleet.
     21   And you had thousands of people just displaced
     22   instantly by that.  And, you know, they absorbed
     23   the social and economic chaos.
     24                We don't think that's the right
     25   management strategy.  If this amount of -- we
.0100
      1   think this amount of money will make a
      2   significant dent, and the fleet will -- and then
      3   we'll move on from that point and see what else
      4   we need to do.  That's our strategy for you.  And
      5   we would like to look at it on definitely five
      6   years as how, where we're doing on our goal.
      7                DR. McKINNEY:  I think even before
      8   that, the accountability, we'll be back as often
      9   as the Commission would like, but certainly
     10   annually to tell you where we are and to seek
     11   your advice on where we should go even at that
     12   point.
     13                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Let me ask you,
     14   currently under the current statute, there's a
     15   portion of the commercial license that's
     16   dedicated for buyback.  I know in some past years
     17   we have supplemented that fund, at times rather
     18   significantly with funds from other sources,
     19   mitigation funds from legal action that --
     20   against various pollution ^ incidents?,
     21   et cetera.  But if you just look at the funds
     22   generated from the commercial license sales,
     23   what's the annual budget, so to speak, for
     24   buyback?
     25                MR. OSBURN:  For buyback?  It's only
.0101
      1   about 160,000, 170,000 a year.  There was a cap
      2   of $25 on -- per license back in 1995.  At that
      3   particular legislative action, that was their --
      4   the legislature said, do $25.  It did not
      5   preclude the Commission from taking action.
      6                DR. McKINNEY:  And part of the
      7   proposals that Hal is looking at is an increase
      8   in that commercial -- to supplement that
      9   program.
     10                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Now, the fiscal note
     11   on the $3 proposed increase in the saltwater
     12   stamp is a million four, so that basically is
     13   almost a tenfold increase in -- some ninefold
     14   increase in the budget for the buyback.
     15                In the proposals from the commercial
     16   side, there are some fee increases there as
     17   well.  Is the intent that some of that money
     18   would -- or certainly I guess it could be also
     19   spent -- be contributed to the buyback pool.  Is
     20   that part of the current proposal or --
     21                DR. McKINNEY:  We would add that on
     22   top of the 1.4.  I think where we've left that a
     23   little bit open is that as we move forward with
     24   these or some version of these rules, there's
     25   some law enforcement issues and other things that
.0102
      1   will be -- we need to make sure we provide the
      2   funds to do.
      3                CHAIRMAN BASS:  There are some other
      4   financial needs, I guess.
      5                DR. McKINNEY:  There are.  But
      6   they're all directly related to these proposals.
      7   But we would certainly want to use as much of
      8   that as possible.  And I think as I briefed you
      9   at one time, our goal would be to have -- I would
     10   love to have $2 million a year to shoot.  But
     11   that's out of our original -- we've come down
     12   from that estimate a little bit, one, because
     13   clearly we have some needs with this money from
     14   law enforcement and others.  Also -- and there's
     15   a bit of projection that we've asked Jayna
     16   Bergdorf to do for us as far as there will be
     17   some -- one of the positive sides of this is, if
     18   we put that surcharge on the -- just the
     19   saltwater stamp, it will likely move people to
     20   our combo, where it isn't there.  So that's a
     21   plus side.  So that's --
     22                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Any other questions
     23   at this time, or should we move to get some
     24   public comment?
     25                Mr. Watson, do you have something
.0103
      1   else you want to add at this time?  We do have
      2   some people that we have asked to give us some
      3   comment, to get some flavor and some issues from
      4   the affected constituent groups.  And I
      5   appreciate you-all agreeing to help us out here.
      6   I'm just going to go in order of how they are
      7   listed on the page, no particular order.
      8                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Mr. Chairman,
      9   before we begin, will we follow the same basic
     10   rules or --
     11                CHAIRMAN BASS:  I believe so.  We'll
     12   ask you, if you could, to -- there are eight
     13   people whose names I have here at this time, too.
     14     If you would limit your comments to three
     15   minutes.  And obviously, if the Commission has
     16   some particular questions to ask of you, that
     17   would be in addition to your three minutes.
     18                If you could try to organize your
     19   thoughts and comments to some three minutes so
     20   that we can try to keep on some type of schedule,
     21   we sure would appreciate that.  And obviously if
     22   you would try to keep your comments constructive
     23   in nature, we would appreciate that as well.
     24                MR. SANSOM:  I will keep time on the
     25   clock in front of me so you can see it.  And when
.0104
      1   the light turns yellow, that means your time is
      2   up.  30 seconds.
      3                CHAIRMAN BASS:  To help you know
      4   that you need to summarize or get anything in
      5   that you want to be sure you cover.
      6                C.L. Stanley, would you start things
      7   off for us.  Mr. Stanley is the chairman of the
      8   Shrimp Advisory Committee, and obviously this is
      9   not the first hour that he's put in on these
     10   issues.
     11                MR. STANLEY:  No, sir, it's sure
     12   not.
     13                CHAIRMAN BASS:   And we appreciate
     14   that.
     15                MR. STANLEY:  Thank you, Mr.
     16   Chairman, members of the committee.  Thank you
     17   for this opportunity to -- I have a few
     18   statements and I have to say that I have some
     19   serious disagreements with some of the previous
     20   comments.
     21                In the executive summary that we
     22   received, the blue book here, on the -- for the
     23   Shrimp Advisory Committee meeting on April the
     24   26th, we received it a week earlier.  One of the
     25   initial statements was that after several months
.0105
      1   of intense research, that the staff found that
      2   there was serious overfishing, including a
      3   continuing long-term downward trend in population
      4   of adult spawners.  And the letter said that was
      5   something like 30 percent.
      6                In the Nance report, Dr. Jim Nance,
      7   in his report to the Shrimp Advisory Panel of the
      8   Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council in, I
      9   believe it was January of this year, his report,
     10   he stated that the stocks were healthy, referring
     11   to the Gulf of Mexico as a whole.  The stocks
     12   were healthy and there was no sign of overfishing
     13   of any kind.  And when the committee met, most of
     14   us had already seen before we got this report of
     15   serious overfishing that has some 25
     16   proclamations, of which I believe resulted in 33
     17   rule changes.
     18                And we also had, at the request of
     19   industry, a statistical analysis from Sea Grant,
     20   the A&M Sea Grant, in which they disagreed with
     21   staff's interpretation of the long-term trends.
     22   And what those long-term trends did not take into
     23   account were rule changes that occurred in 1990,
     24   we had the most comprehensive set of rule changes
     25   since -- that's occurred since 1979, especially
.0106
      1   with inshore fishery.
      2                In 1995 we implemented the limited
      3   entry program and we had a reduction in vessel --
      4   a significant number of vessel reductions
      5   occurring at a level.  In 1972 there were a total
      6   of 5,301 bay and bait licenses.  In 1983 -- and
      7   this is the actual year, the period 1982 to '84,
      8   that number reached 8,052.
      9                Then in 1995 at the time limited
     10   entry was there, it dropped to 3,627.  Three
     11   minutes isn't very long, so I'm -- the Shrimp
     12   Advisory Committee met once in 1998.  We did not
     13   meet in 1999.  We had one week's notice on this.
     14   And we were totally bypassed.
     15                And a rule here from Mr. Ribchers or
     16   the letter from him, he states, this committee
     17   was created to advise the department on
     18   preparation and formulate the rules and
     19   regulations necessary to carry out the Shrimp
     20   Management Plan.  And the advisory committee
     21   wasn't included in this plan at all until the
     22   April 26th meeting.
     23                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Mr. Stanley,
     24   are you a bay shrimper or a gulf shrimper?
     25                MR. STANLEY:  I'm a bay shrimper.
.0107
      1   Yes, sir.  I've been shrimping for 25 years.
      2   Before that, I taught school.
      3                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  You indicated
      4   that A&M board disagrees with the staff report
      5   and the direction of long-term trends.
      6                MR. STANLEY:  Yes, sir.  Using --
      7                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Would you
      8   expand on that a bit, please?  When you say --
      9                MR. STANLEY:  I can't understand --
     10   when they get into what that -- what they
     11   referred to was the trends and the sizes of
     12   shrimp and so forth that were coming up.  I would
     13   have to have them explain that, as far as me
     14   trying to explain exactly what their statement
     15   was.  But they got the opposite result, opposite
     16   of what --
     17                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  When you say,
     18   they, sir --
     19                MR. STANLEY:  They being Sea Grant.
     20   Mr. Rush was there -- and primarily was the one.
     21   He's their statistical man, and that's what he
     22   came up with.  But as far as trying to explain
     23   how he arrived at it, it's over my head.  I'm not
     24   an analysis man.
     25                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  You must have
.0108
      1   pointed this out at the meeting?
      2                MR. STANLEY:  Yes, sir.
      3                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  And what was --
      4                MR. STANLEY:  Well, he testified at
      5   the meeting.  He got up and presented --
      6                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  And was there
      7   just general disagreement between the two sides
      8   on this issue?
      9                MR. STANLEY:  Just a general
     10   disagreement on which way the trend was headed,
     11   whether there was a threat of imminent collapse
     12   of the fishery or whether the fishery was
     13   healthy.  And granted, mother nature has kind of
     14   kicked us in the teeth the last couple of years.
     15   Fisheries are kind of like the dry land farmer.
     16   If we don't get freshwater inflow, rainwater and
     17   freshwater inflow, we have poor shrimp crops.
     18   And that also applies for recreational fishery,
     19   all marine life.
     20                Our bays are dependent on freshwater
     21   inflow, and if we don't have it, our bays reduce
     22   their productivity, accordingly.  Thank you very
     23   much.
     24                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Mr. Stanley,
     25   could you characterize your view of the economic
.0109
      1   situation for the shrimping industry?
      2                MR. STANLEY:  Economics?  We're like
      3   the farmer.  We're dealing with a perishable
      4   product.  And it's subject to supply and demand.
      5   And prices bounce around.  1997, we had good
      6   prices, made a little money, although we were
      7   having dry summers, and the shrimp crop wasn't
      8   anything to brag about.  But the money -- the
      9   profit was there because the price was up.
     10                1999, the price was down.  Louisiana
     11   had a good crop in the spring and the price was
     12   down.  We had the best recruitment in Galveston
     13   Bay that they've had since the 1970s of brown
     14   shrimp.  But because of lack of freshwater
     15   inflow, they just virtually disappeared, they
     16   just -- predation is what gets them.  I won't say
     17   they die.  Something eats them.
     18                But we didn't see very many shrimp
     19   leave.  They stayed small.  And the price wasn't
     20   any good.  It wound up being a poor year.  The
     21   dry summer created a very poor white shrimp
     22   crop.  White shrimp are more dependent on low
     23   salinities or almost -- a lot of freshwater
     24   inflow does best for whites.  We didn't have it.
     25   We had a poor fall season as well in Texas.
.0110
      1                Last year inshore had one of the
      2   worst seasons in a long time, especially the
      3   lower coast -- or the middle coast.
      4                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  I don't
      5   believe we're going to be able to help with the
      6   freshwater --
      7                MR. STANLEY:  We need to blow up
      8   Lake Livingston.  But, yes.  Mr. Chairman, if
      9   you'd just let some of that water out of Fort
     10   Worth up there, let it rain a little bit.  But as
     11   far as Galveston Bay is concerned, Trinity River
     12   is our key inflow.  And they're taking so much
     13   water up that, that does come down now.
     14                And when I was in college, they
     15   stated that someday water would be more valuable
     16   than gasoline.  Now, that was when gasoline was
     17   very cheap.  And you know, we -- I don't know
     18   that we'll see it, but I think our children and
     19   our grandchildren will see times when that may be
     20   coming true.  The demands for fresh water is
     21   going to be critical.  And without it, our bay
     22   systems are in trouble.
     23                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Mr. Stanley,
     24   what's your view of the need or lack of need for
     25   any conservation or even rule changes?
.0111
      1                MR. STANLEY:  Well, I look to our
      2   neighbors to the east in Louisiana and how they
      3   fish there, and it's almost virtually wide open.
      4   It's closed when they close.  And when it's wide
      5   open, they go after it.  They keep that crop --
      6   and it's relative to all shrimp.  When the volume
      7   reaches its largest volume, they go after it with
      8   almost no holds barred.
      9                We don't do that.  I don't want to
     10   see that.  I think there needs to be some
     11   fine-tuning.  I think there can be some
     12   fine-tuning.  There have been a lot of concern
     13   about the pressure on little shrimp in the bays
     14   and much of this was regulatory changes in the
     15   '90s.  Closure of the gulf beach at this time of
     16   the year forced boats, hundreds of -- several
     17   hundred boats to come into the bay that never
     18   fished in the bay except in the fall.
     19                And the time change, we could shrimp
     20   under one license or the other, 24 hours a day.
     21   You have bigger shrimp at night than you do in
     22   the daytime, this time of the year, or a little
     23   later in the year than this, in June and July.
     24                So when we went to the two o'clock
     25   cutoff, this forced boats -- you had a choice,
.0112
      1   either go hunting, hope you could find something
      2   by two o'clock or you go after what's there.  And
      3   the option -- at the end of the day, we have to
      4   look at the bottom line on the ticket.  So we go
      5   after what's there.  And --
      6                But as far as any -- I don't think
      7   there needs to be any major rule changes.  I
      8   think there can be some fine-tuning, and this is
      9   what I would like to see.  I would like to see us
     10   sit down this winter when we're not working and
     11   try to fine-tune this thing.  It could be done
     12   without -- you know, to the satisfaction, I
     13   think, of all concerned.
     14                Any other questions?
     15                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you, sir.  I
     16   guarantee, if I could make it rain, I would, and
     17   I'd probably be chairman for life.
     18                MR. STANLEY:  I refer to your area
     19   up there because the Trinity River is so
     20   important.
     21                CHAIRMAN BASS:  I understand.
     22                MR. STANLEY:  Thank you, sir.
     23                CHAIRMAN BASS:  All right.  Jimmy
     24   Evans, if you would come forward, and Ms. Tammy
     25   Tran, if you would be prepared to come up after
.0113
      1   Mr. Evans gives us his comments.
      2                MR. EVANS:  Hello, folks.
      3                CHAIRMAN BASS:  How are you?
      4                MR. EVANS:  Well, I'm fine.
      5                CHAIRMAN BASS:  You're a bait dealer
      6   from Freeport.
      7                MR. EVANS:  Yes, sir.  I have a
      8   store, Beach, Bait, and Tackle in Freeport,
      9   Texas, for many years.
     10                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Almost a member of
     11   our Shrimp Advisory Committee.
     12                MR. EVANS:  Yes, sir.  I think I've
     13   solved this fishery problem.  I think we just
     14   need to hold one of these meetings weekly or
     15   every day.
     16                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Not many boats in
     17   the bay today, are there?
     18                MR. EVANS:  There wouldn't be very
     19   many out today, I don't believe.  That's a
     20   lighter side.
     21                The more serious side.  I don't know
     22   what the crowd would look like today if there was
     23   no shrimp fishery yesterday.  I do believe that
     24   the shrimp fishery could collapse.  Collapse
     25   means that it could happen overnight, not in a
.0114
      1   long length of time.  We -- I believe that the
      2   Parks and Wildlife is one of the -- State of
      3   Texas Parks and Wildlife is one of the finest in
      4   the United States.  I think that we need to
      5   continue to abide and listen to these people.
      6                The meetings -- I had some health
      7   problems back on advisory committee several years
      8   ago, so I didn't make a few of them.  I was aware
      9   of all of the meetings that were going on in the
     10   area.  I was invited to several of the public
     11   meetings that I didn't make.
     12                And I've been aware of this, the
     13   buyback program has came.  I'm not satisfied that
     14   the buyback is a complete -- is a satisfactory
     15   answer.  I don't think it's -- I don't think it's
     16   going to do its job.  I'm kind of like you,
     17   Chairman, a while ago.  I think I know the
     18   answer.  If you and I had the last two licenses,
     19   and I said, I'm fixing to sell, I don't think
     20   there's any doubt that you would not catch all
     21   the shrimp that the 100 percent caught.
     22                The answer to the 50 percent that's
     23   there, I don't think that -- I don't think that
     24   we know what percentage of the shrimp that they
     25   would catch.  Okay?  I don't think we know that.
.0115
      1   So I still think that we need to have stricter
      2   rules to keep this fishery from collapsing.  The
      3   shrimp fishery can collapse.
      4                I did not vote with the advisory
      5   committee to vote against all of those
      6   procedures.  I actually think that the original
      7   proposals were things that we probably need to do
      8   with this fishery.  One of them was, particularly
      9   that -- not particularly to salvage a fishery,
     10   but from the other area of the turtles is the
     11   fact that the closure on the southern coast out
     12   to ten fathoms would be a significant improvement
     13   to the turtle coming back.  And some day if that
     14   turtle did come back, then we probably would not
     15   have turtle excluder devices in any of the nets.
     16   That's what we're -- that's the goal, is to try
     17   to get it back.
     18                The answer from some of the turtle
     19   people on a scale of one to ten, how significant
     20   would this closure be, they answered nine.  And
     21   only two percent -- less than two percent of the
     22   shrimp are harvested in that area.  And they
     23   could also be harvested later in deeper water.
     24   So that was a good proposal that we just blanket
     25   voted down.  We came to a meeting to vote it
.0116
      1   down.  I didn't.  I vote for those proposals.  I
      2   didn't say before the meeting that I was going to
      3   come in here and vote against all of these
      4   proposals, just for the sake of voting against
      5   them.  Thank you.
      6                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Any questions for
      7   Mr. Evans at this time?  Appreciate your time and
      8   commitment.
      9                MR. EVANS:  Thank you.
     10                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Ms. Tran?  And Kevin
     11   Daniels, if you'd be prepared to speak next.
     12                Good morning.  I guess it's still
     13   morning.
     14                MS. TRAN:  Yes, it's still morning.
     15   Good morning.
     16                Mr. Chairman, distinguished
     17   Commissioners, and Mr. Sansom, can you hear me?
     18                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Yes, we can.
     19                MS. TRAN:  My name is Tammy Tran and
     20   I'm going to be short and sweet.  I'm serving as
     21   a licensed counsel for the Vietnamese
     22   Asian-American Shrimper Association in Texas,
     23   which is also known as VAASA.  This association
     24   represents 60 percent of the Vietnamese-American
     25   shrimpers in Texas.  We also represent the
.0117
      1   related industries in the Vietnamese community,
      2   such as medical, legal profession, insurance,
      3   automobile dealerships, restaurants, supermarket
      4   owners.  Meaning that if the shrimpers collapse,
      5   we all will collapse.
      6                The Vietnamese community in Texas,
      7   as you all know, consists of 400,000 people,
      8   since the fall of South Vietnam in 1975.  We also
      9   have been requested by over 2 million Vietnamese
     10   Americans in the United States, all over the 50
     11   states, to be here to submit to the Commission
     12   the following point.
     13                As I have indicated, I am going to
     14   be very short and sweet and all of the questions
     15   I would defer to my cocounsel, Mr. Robert Miller
     16   from Locke, Liddell & Sapp.
     17                First, the Vietnamese-American
     18   shrimpers have not been taken seriously.  That is
     19   our point.
     20                Second, the proposed regulations,
     21   even the revised ones, lack scientific data; and,
     22   therefore, are very faulty.
     23                Thirdly, we have not been invited to
     24   participate in the discussions of the proposed
     25   regulation, and that is the fact.  From the very
.0118
      1   beginning, we were left in the dark, until
      2   April.  We were only informed of the proposed
      3   regulation in April within the -- in the last
      4   meeting.
      5                We suggest the adoption of more
      6   formal procedures for the Shrimp Advisory
      7   Committee and its interaction with the staff and
      8   the department.  We feel blindsided by the
      9   proposed regulations.  We cannot do business this
     10   way.
     11                We would like to have more members
     12   participating -- to be on the advisory board.
     13                In conclusion, we would love to work
     14   with the Commission and the Texas Parks and
     15   Wildlife department.  We want to achieve the best
     16   result for the shrimping industry while
     17   preventing overfishing.  But it has to be both
     18   ways.
     19                Mr. Chairman and distinguished board
     20   members, last April, April 30th of this year,
     21   marked the 25 years of the Vietnamese American in
     22   this country after the fall of South Vietnam.
     23   For 25 years, the Vietnamese American shrimpers,
     24   together with over two million people, have
     25   contributed sweat, blood, and tears to be of this
.0119
      1   country and this state.
      2                According to the Rice report in
      3   1996, of the Rice University, we make the top
      4   contribution in the State of Texas.  That is the
      5   fact.
      6                MR. SANSOM:  Thank you, Ms. Tran,
      7   your time is up.
      8                MS. TRAN:  Yes.  I will be short.
      9   This is our second homeland.  Scientifics have
     10   proven our achievements; therefore, we submit
     11   that.  This is time to take us seriously.  I
     12   thank you.
     13                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Questions?
     14                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Mr. Chairman, I
     15   have two.  You indicated that you felt that there
     16   was a lack of scientific data to support what
     17   particular conclusion?
     18                MS. TRAN:  Right.  Supporting the
     19   conclusion that, you know, the shrimping industry
     20   is about to collapse.  I am not an expert.  And
     21   our expert has submitted comment.  I am only
     22   legal counsel.  But from what I saw and from what
     23   I read, there are conflicting evidence concerning
     24   whether the shrimping industry is about to be
     25   collapsed.  And we submit that this is not.  And
.0120
      1   we would like -- we submit that this
      2   distinguished commission should delay adopting
      3   the regulation so that we would have time to sit
      4   down and work out a fair plan.
      5                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  You also
      6   indicated that the group that you represent was
      7   not invited to participate.  Would you --
      8                MS. TRAN:  Not enough.  For example,
      9   we submit a letter to the staff and asking the
     10   names of the people who were invited previously,
     11   before April of the year of 2000.  We were
     12   informed that only two Vietnamese, and they are
     13   not shrimpers.  For example, if you ask me about
     14   shrimping, I cannot know.  I always have to refer
     15   to my expert.  They are Texas shrimpers.
     16                And by the way, the new generation
     17   of the Vietnamese Texas shrimpers are very
     18   well-educated.  So we feel like we were left in
     19   the dark.  We have not been invited.
     20                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  You also
     21   indicated that either you were not represented or
     22   was it a lack of representation on the advisory
     23   committee.  Is this the same point that you're
     24   making?
     25                MS. TRAN:  Both.  Recently, for 25
.0121
      1   years -- and this is the first time, you know,
      2   you know, because of the outcry of the public,
      3   there is only one Vietnamese woman has just been
      4   invited to the board.  And by the way, I'm very
      5   impressed because she's woman.
      6                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  And, finally,
      7   you said that you felt blindsided.  Are you
      8   suggesting a conspiracy or something like that?
      9                MS. TRAN:  No.  No, sir.  I would
     10   never dare to make that allegation.  I would like
     11   to see more participation.
     12                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Thank you.
     13                MS. TRAN:  Thank you.
     14                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Ms. Tran?
     15                MS. TRAN:  Yes.
     16                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Let's have a little
     17   decorum.  We don't need to applaud and boo here.
     18                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  These are
     19   proposed regulations.  And I hope that if the
     20   Commission does forward them for public comment
     21   through the Texas Register, that your
     22   organization will file comments.  But while
     23   you're here today and we are considering these
     24   proposed regulations, could you share with us
     25   which particular ones your group finds most
.0122
      1   objectionable, and also why?
      2                MS. TRAN:  Well, with respect to
      3   that issue, I would like to refer to my
      4   colleague, who is a very known colleague,
      5   Mr. Robert Miller from Locke, Liddell & Sapp, who
      6   will answer those questions.  And we also shall
      7   submit all of our comments in writing.
      8                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Mr. Miller, would
      9   you come forward and answer Ms. Dinkins'
     10   question, if you would, please?
     11                MR. MILLER:  Mr. Chairman, we
     12   actually have Ms. Thuy Vu who is on the
     13   Shrimper's Advisory Board who is the one who is
     14   our technical person who would answer that.  She
     15   may be outside.  So --
     16                MS. TRAN:  Thuy Vu is the next
     17   generation of the Vietnamese shrimpers and we're
     18   very proud of her.
     19                MS. VU:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman and
     20   committee members, for allowing me to be up here
     21   to address my comments.
     22                As you asked Ms. Tammy about which
     23   proposal we are opposing and which one we are not
     24   opposing, as of this date, I'd like to get more
     25   meetings out throughout the industry before we
.0123
      1   give you that comment.  I know that when we sit
      2   down to talk, there's going to be some dispute
      3   between us.  But we haven't had enough meeting
      4   scheduled throughout the coastal.
      5                You know, when I asked, is there any
      6   meeting been scheduled for our people, especially
      7   our people, they said there was four.  But when I
      8   asked them, they said they didn't know anything
      9   about all these proposals coming out.  The first
     10   time I learned about this was back in April -- a
     11   week before the April 26th meeting.  That's when
     12   I started putting my time out, calling everybody
     13   along the coast and ask them what's their input
     14   on this proposal.  And a lot of them said that,
     15   really, there might be some fine-tuning need to
     16   be done but we need more time.  And you have to
     17   understand, this is our busiest time of the
     18   year.  We have to be out there making money.
     19   Like all the people out there standing, they
     20   should be out there making money for their
     21   family.  But they're not.  They have to come here
     22   to show that their livelihood could be in your
     23   hand.  It's up to you to decide what we were able
     24   to do.
     25                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Any other
.0124
      1   questions?
      2                MS. VU:  And we also request that if
      3   you can, before any public hearing to give us
      4   time to the winter months to do more study.
      5   Because when it turn into public, our people are
      6   busy and a lot of time we may not be able to get
      7   all the comments in and it's not fair for us to,
      8   you know, be trying to work and trying to take
      9   care of our -- the regulation and stuff like
     10   that.
     11                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Did we not
     12   understand that some of the hearings this summer
     13   would be during closed season?  Is that not --
     14                MR. SANSOM:  Is that correct?
     15                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Is that not
     16   correct?
     17                MS. VU:  No, sir.  Because
     18   Mr. Howell said that the bay closed from July to
     19   August the 15th.  But some of them have a gulf
     20   license and they have to go out there if the bay
     21   is not producing what they can make.
     22                And the gulf, right now, the gulf is
     23   closed but we are allowed to go to Louisiana to
     24   shrimp, to keep up our bills.
     25                COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  What months are
.0125
      1   best for your groups?
      2                MS. VU:  After January.
      3                And also, I wanted to comment on
      4   Mr. Howell trying to refer us to, like -- he said
      5   the Florida closure and the Louisiana closure.
      6   Shrimp are very unique.  It depend on the --
      7   mother nature.  Every state, the water is
      8   different.  We cannot take Texas and apply to
      9   Louisiana.  There is no way.  And if you not out
     10   there shrimping, there is no way you will
     11   understand the trend and the movement of the
     12   shrimp.
     13                I can address one.  Like the closure
     14   of the brown from the South Padre Island or, I
     15   guess, Corpus Christi Bay down to Brownsville.
     16   If you close that area, what you do is you're
     17   going to -- all those shrimp will migrate to
     18   Mexico because there's no bay down that area.
     19   And also the shrimp migrate from Louisiana -- if
     20   Louisiana have a good season, we going to have a
     21   good season.  If Louisiana don't have a good
     22   season, we're not going to have a good season.
     23                Last year, the bay was the worst
     24   season we ever had.  But we had a pretty good
     25   season out of the gulf because the shrimp migrate
.0126
      1   from Florida, Mississippi, downward.  And then
      2   when we address the issue on the white shrimp,
      3   you have to understand how the white shrimp
      4   spawn, which Parks and Wildlife already done a
      5   pretty good job of closing whenever they need
      6   to.  We don't get to shrimp at night at all.
      7                During the year, from January till
      8   February the 1st of -- let me go back.  December
      9   the 15th to February the 1st the inshore gulf are
     10   closed for the shrimp spawning.  And then from
     11   February the 1st, it's open back up until May the
     12   15th, or which sometime if the department feel
     13   like the shrimp is moving out to be spawning,
     14   then they will close it.  Like this year, instead
     15   of May the 15th, they went ahead and closed it on
     16   May the 11th, which we understand.  And then it's
     17   closed until July the 15th.
     18                All that time, the shrimp spawn.
     19   And then after that, if we don't shrimp in that
     20   area, it's all going to be gone, migrate down to
     21   Texas.  Because white shrimp are different.  Like
     22   Mr. Sandy said, it need fresh water and -- you
     23   know.  And in the bay, there is enough regulation
     24   out there for them already.
     25                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you, ma'am.
.0127
      1   Any further -- hello, Mr. Ryan.  We saved a seat
      2   for you.
      3                Any other questions at this time?
      4   Thank you, ladies, very much.
      5                MS. VU:  Thank you.
      6                MS. TRAN:  Thank you.
      7                CHAIRMAN BASS:  I appreciate your
      8   help this morning.
      9                Mr. Kevin Daniels, if you would come
     10   forward.  And, Richard Morrison, if you would be
     11   prepared to speak after Mr. Daniels.
     12                MR. DANIELS:  Thank you, Mr.
     13   Chairman, Commissioners, thank you.  I'm really
     14   here to comment about the licensed buyback
     15   program.  But before I do that, I'd like to make
     16   a comment about the --
     17                CHAIRMAN BASS:  If I could, would
     18   you let us -- I know what group you're with and
     19   what constituency you represent.  But if you
     20   would, just for the record --
     21                MR. DANIELS:  Right.  I'm Kevin
     22   Daniels and I'm the executive director of the
     23   Coastal Conservation Association.
     24                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.
     25                MR. DANIELS:  Thank you,
.0128
      1   Mr. Chairman.  Before I make a comment on the
      2   licensed buyback program, I would really like to
      3   comment on some discussion that I've heard here
      4   about being left in the dark and not communicated
      5   with.  I'll tell you that our organization, as a
      6   stakeholder, was communicated regularly with by
      7   the staff at Parks and Wildlife.  Now, while it
      8   may be true that this -- the briefing book with
      9   actual regulations were only recently published,
     10   over the last 18 months, we've had numerous
     11   opportunity to comment on ideas that were being
     12   considered.  So only in our experience have we
     13   seen that -- I think they have done the job they
     14   were supposed to do.
     15                I'd like to really comment again
     16   about the -- about your consideration, about the
     17   Commission's consideration of an increase in the
     18   saltwater stamp for the purpose of shrimp license
     19   buyback.  We like the buyback idea.  Let me
     20   preface all this with that.  But our belief is
     21   that initially the buy-out of shrimp license in
     22   and of itself has less conservation benefit than
     23   is believed, I think, generally by the public.
     24   At the very least, it's going to be difficult to
     25   quantify that.  The reality is that most
.0129
      1   shrimpers possess two licenses, both a bait and a
      2   bay license, and this buy-out plan really
      3   proposes the purchase of only the license, not
      4   the vessel.  So there's really no direct
      5   one-to-one reduction of shrimping effort.
      6                To buy back a license is no
      7   guarantee that we'll see less shrimping, or more
      8   importantly, that we'll see fewer and fewer
      9   shrimp caught.  The reality is, as you pointed
     10   out earlier, what we're really doing is reducing
     11   the competition for the remaining people in the
     12   industry.  And you can bet that those are many in
     13   the fishery -- in the industry will catch the
     14   same amount of shrimp, if not more perhaps.
     15   They'll just do so with less competition.
     16   Perhaps they will catch them quicker, which is a
     17   conservation benefit, because perhaps they will
     18   have to trawl less hours, and also they will
     19   probably reduce the operating costs.  Hopefully
     20   that would be a benefit.
     21                But at some point in the future,
     22   when enough licenses and vessels have been
     23   retired to a point where the operator won't be
     24   able to catch all the shrimp available to him, at
     25   that point, they can be profitable to their own
.0130
      1   level of satisfaction.
      2                Because of this reality, because of
      3   the reality of the lack of a direct one-to-one
      4   reduction in effort, what we would really like to
      5   see are some strong conservation measures, which
      6   is what we're seeing right now, what we're
      7   talking about.
      8                I think that the proposed regulation
      9   changes that Parks and Wildlife staff has made
     10   are the kind of things that we're going to -- I
     11   think that we will see to help ensure a healthy
     12   fishery for quite a time to come.
     13                Really, what we'd like to have
     14   happen is to directly link this license buy-out,
     15   the spending of those dollars to some
     16   conservation measures.  Only when those measures
     17   are in place would you trigger the funding
     18   mechanism to buy out.  That way, I think that the
     19   recreational fisherman is somehow assured that
     20   he's going to approve his dollars right now to
     21   spend his money now, but he'll have some real
     22   conservation benefit sometime in the future.
     23                I'd like to compliment the staff on
     24   all their work, not only on this license buyback
     25   but to really make some of the tough and
.0131
      1   courageous recommendations that they're making in
      2   light of the criticism they're receiving.  And we
      3   feel that most of this criticism is really sorely
      4   incorrect.
      5                Thank you.
      6                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.  I think
      7   part of your comments are something that we're
      8   certainly in agreement with, which is that the
      9   buyback program and the increased funding of it
     10   from recreational fishermen is part and parcel of
     11   the same issue as the proposed conservation
     12   measures that would impact the commercial
     13   fishery, which is why we're talking about two
     14   agenda items and two different committees at the
     15   same time.  You know, unfortunately they're not
     16   on exactly the same time line in terms of when
     17   they would go into effect, and therefore, when
     18   they need to be finalized and --
     19                MR. DANIELS:  Mr. Chairman, we look
     20   at the buyback program as a tool in the whole
     21   package.
     22                CHAIRMAN BASS:  I think the
     23   department would agree.
     24                MR. DANIELS:  Absolutely.  I mean,
     25   the buyback in and of itself is not enough.  It
.0132
      1   will help.  And I think it will not only help
      2   from a conservation aspect, it will also help
      3   economically for those who want to exit the
      4   industry.
      5                But without the conservation
      6   measures it's an incomplete opportunity to really
      7   fix something.
      8                CHAIRMAN BASS:  I think what we've
      9   heard from staff this morning is that they would
     10   agree with you in principle.
     11                Questions or comments from the
     12   Commission at this time?  Yes, ma'am,
     13   Ms. Dinkins.
     14                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  I just wanted
     15   to make sure that I understood what you were
     16   saying, Mr. Daniels.  When you say you want to
     17   see us link spending the dollars to conservation
     18   measures, is what you're saying very simply that
     19   you would recommend that we not adopt one without
     20   the other?
     21                MR. DANIELS:  I think you have a
     22   timing problem right now.  You obviously are
     23   going to be asked to consider for approval
     24   tomorrow on an increase in the saltwater stamp.
     25   You will not be able to -- or you will not be
.0133
      1   discussing or considering these regulatory
      2   conservation changes, really, until I believe the
      3   end of August.  So we've kind of got the cart
      4   before the horse here.  And I think what we would
      5   like to see is to -- let me give you an example.
      6   If you consider tomorrow and approve that
      7   recommendation to increase the saltwater stamp
      8   fee, that you may hold that money, almost like a
      9   dedicated fund, restricted fund, and not really
     10   release those dollars until certain conservation
     11   measures were approved and in place.
     12                Now, that may happen on August the
     13   31st, it may not.  And I believe the staff and --
     14   could develop a series of trigger points, whether
     15   that be -- let's say there's four key items that
     16   have to occur before the license buyback would
     17   proceed.  For example, let's say that the
     18   approval of BRDs in the bay, for example, is
     19   one.  Perhaps a certain percentage of nursery
     20   area.  I believe that area is proposed to be
     21   increased.  Maybe that would be another.
     22                But, I mean, a series of trigger
     23   points that would occur that would then allow
     24   that money to be released, you know, for the
     25   buyback program.  And what that really would do,
.0134
      1   I think, is give the recreational fishermen --
      2   the recreational fisherman I think is willing to
      3   stand up now and say, we'll pay our fair share.
      4   We would just like to see in 90 days when you're
      5   considering the other part of this that nobody
      6   loses their will.  The recreational fisherman is
      7   going to participate.  I think the other
      8   participant in this fishery needs to participate,
      9   too.  And I think they're willing to do that.
     10   They're asking to give up a lot in many cases,
     11   and we understand that.
     12                I think that today is an example --
     13   and, really, since the Shrimp Advisory panel
     14   meeting, and all that occurred there, from that
     15   point to today I think the staff has displayed
     16   their willingness to work on an issue-by-issue
     17   basis with the industry, and I think they will
     18   continue to do that.
     19                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Kevin, you
     20   would agree that the buyback is one of the tools
     21   in our toolbox, as you've just said?
     22                MR. DANIELS:  Absolutely.
     23                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  And you
     24   wouldn't want us to defer using one of our tools
     25   just to, you know, inordinately wait on getting
.0135
      1   something else done?
      2                MR. DANIELS:  No.  I think that what
      3   I'm trying to say is, I believe that if you
      4   choose to move forward on it -- we think it's a
      5   good idea.  We just would have much rather
      6   seen -- the conservation measures, we would
      7   rather see the regulatory changes occur first and
      8   then the recreational fishermen step up to the
      9   plate and contribute whatever dollars he can or
     10   is willing to do.
     11                I think the scenario I'm trying to
     12   describe is one in which you go ahead and you
     13   approve the -- an increase, but you basically
     14   restrict those dollars, you designate those
     15   dollars to be used only when certain other things
     16   occur.  And that may be 90 days, it may be
     17   longer.  But, you know, you basically would be
     18   building a fund to use for the buy-out program.
     19                I'm not suggesting that you delay.
     20   I think that we've waited long enough to take
     21   some of these actions, and I think we should
     22   probably do that.
     23                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you, Kevin.
     24                Any other questions?  We appreciate
     25   you helping us out and being here.
.0136
      1                MR. DANIELS:  Thank you.
      2                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Richard Morrison.
      3   And Ms. Pam Baker from EDF, if you would be
      4   prepared to speak after Mr. Morrison.  Good
      5   morning.
      6                MR. MORRISON:  Good morning.  No.
      7   Good afternoon.
      8                CHAIRMAN BASS:  It is afternoon
      9   now.  It is afternoon.
     10                MR. MORRISON:  Thank you for
     11   allowing me to come today, Mr. Chairman, members
     12   of the Commission.  I'm Richard Morrison and I'm
     13   representing the Calhoun County shrimpers.  I
     14   want to try to keep my time as short as I
     15   possibly can.
     16                The Calhoun County shrimpers are bay
     17   shrimpers out of Calhoun County.  They shrimp
     18   along the mid coast.  What I'm here on their
     19   behalf asking for today is a postponement of
     20   publishing these rules in the Texas Register.
     21                You've heard today things from
     22   Mr. Osburn.  He said if it was a perfect world,
     23   he would have liked to have had more time.  He
     24   said he knew it was a short time frame.  It's a
     25   very complex set of rules.  Those were his words,
.0137
      1   and we agree with all of that.
      2                Today y'all have the power to
      3   postpone the publishing of these rules to let the
      4   shrimp industry have time when they're not
      5   working, when they don't have to be out there
      6   every day.  You have the power today to postpone
      7   that so they can come together, they can martial,
      8   they can get their ducks in a row, they can
      9   discuss this with every member of the industry
     10   that wants a meaningful discussion on the issues,
     11   and come to a resolution that the staff and the
     12   industry can live with.  We want to --
     13                Mr. Stanley said it perfect, is,
     14   we're not opposed to regulations.  We believe
     15   that some of these regulations are possible, but
     16   they need tweaking.  We believe that the buyback
     17   program is a good program.  Based on the science
     18   out there today on fishery management, if you
     19   have a buyback program and a comprehensive set of
     20   rules, that's about the best there is out there.
     21   And you already have a comprehensive set of rules
     22   that governs the bay industry and the bait
     23   industry.  Putting forth the buyback program,
     24   letting it have a chance to work is something
     25   that we believe will work.
.0138
      1                But in light of that, we also say
      2   that we want to have time to look at these
      3   regulations.  We have to have time to review
      4   them.
      5                Everyone in the industry -- I
      6   shouldn't say everyone.  Most in the industry
      7   rely on the shrimp management council -- or the
      8   shrimp management committee, as their
      9   representatives.  When the shrimp management
     10   committee got the blue book a week or so before,
     11   it sent a shock wave through the industry that
     12   Parks and Wildlife was trying to do too much with
     13   too little of a time for everyone to get a look
     14   at it.  And all we are today is, we're just
     15   asking Parks and Wildlife to don't publish these
     16   rules, because once you publish them in the Texas
     17   Register, that just sets the clock ticking on
     18   deadlines and everything else, and it puts a lot
     19   of pressure on the industry.  And we would ask --
     20                MR. SANSOM:  Thank you, Mr. Morris.
     21                MR. MORRISON:  Yes, sir.  We would
     22   ask Parks and Wildlife today, you the Commission,
     23   to postpone those until December.  Thank you.
     24                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Any questions?
     25                Thank you for your time.  Appreciate
.0139
      1   you being here.
      2                MR. MORRISON:  Thank you.
      3                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Ms. Baker.  And
      4   Ms. Wilma Anderson, if you would be prepared to
      5   speak after Ms. Baker.
      6                MS. BAKER:  Good afternoon, Chairman
      7   and members of the Commission.  My name is Pam
      8   Baker.  I'm a fishery biologist with a public
      9   interest group called Environmental Defense.  I
     10   live in Corpus Christi.
     11                The negative trends in the health of
     12   our shrimp stocks reported by Texas Parks and
     13   Wildlife and confirmed by the National Marine
     14   Fishery Service are disturbing to our group.  The
     15   persistent excessive harvesting of very small
     16   shrimp and size of a drop in the number of shrimp
     17   escaping from bays to offshore spawning grounds
     18   provide a serious warning.
     19                Similar overfishing trends have been
     20   documented among fishery stocks worldwide that
     21   have ultimately declined or even collapsed.
     22                We recognize that pollution, habitat
     23   degradation, fresh water inflows, and even
     24   weather can affect shrimp and other marine life.
     25   However, we agree with Texas Parks and Wildlife
.0140
      1   scientists that current overfishing of shrimp is
      2   a serious problem that demands action.  We
      3   believe that the Texas Parks and Wildlife review
      4   and outreach process over the past year and a
      5   half or so involving the shrimp industry,
      6   environmentalists, and coastal citizens has
      7   resulted in some proposals that are worthy of
      8   serious consideration.  I'll very briefly give
      9   you our views.
     10                We oppose the proposed minimum count
     11   limits because they can increase the waste of
     12   shrimp; and bag and possession limits and
     13   restrictions on the number and sizes of nets used
     14   can cause inefficiencies and drive up fishermen's
     15   costs without helping shrimp stocks.
     16                Second, we support rules that
     17   designate no shrimping zones and reduce
     18   incidental damage.  We fully support year-round
     19   disclosures and designated zones where special
     20   protection is needed.  The proposed southern
     21   shrimp zone will protect mating sea turtles and
     22   spawning white shrimp.  In fact, we recommend
     23   that this closure be also applied to the northern
     24   shrimp zone.
     25                We support proposed closures of bays
.0141
      1   designated as nursery habitat to enhance juvenile
      2   shrimp survival, and seasonal closures designed
      3   to protect specific life stages, migration paths,
      4   or special needs of shrimp and other marine life
      5   species.
      6                Finally, we support gear
      7   improvements that help reduce the bycatch of
      8   fish, turtles, and small shrimp.
      9                The rules we support further
     10   restrict areas available to shrimping and may
     11   increase the cost of shrimping.  However, we
     12   believe the benefits will exceed the cost because
     13   the rules will help improve the long-term health
     14   of the marine ecosystem, including shrimp
     15   stocks.
     16                In addition, they will allow shrimp
     17   to be captured when they are larger and more
     18   valuable.
     19                Third, we recommend a plan for
     20   sustainable and profitable shrimping.
     21   Overfishing of shrimp and the industry's high
     22   level of bycatch and environmental damage is
     23   caused by overcapitalization and excess effort.
     24   The amount of shrimp available could be harvested
     25   by fewer fishermen trawling significantly fewer
.0142
      1   hours, thus reducing their fishing costs and
      2   opportunities to capture unwanted fish, turtles,
      3   and bycatch.
      4                The proposal to raise additional
      5   money by increasing the fee for the sports
      6   saltwater fishing stamp and industry license fees
      7   could speed up the buy-out of shrimp, fishing
      8   licenses --
      9                MR. SANSOM:  Thank you, Ms. Baker.
     10                MS. BAKER:  Okay.
     11                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Any -- were you
     12   finished?
     13                MS. BAKER:  No.  I had a few more
     14   sentences.
     15                CHAIRMAN BASS:  If you have one or
     16   two sentences to close with --
     17                MS. BAKER:  I'll just summarize.  In
     18   summary, we urge the Texas Parks and Wildlife
     19   Commission to move forward with public hearings
     20   this summer.  We believe a delay could
     21   unnecessarily risk the health of our coastal
     22   ecosystems and our public resources.
     23                We also recommend that regulators
     24   and coastal stakeholders take this opportunity to
     25   speed up the license buyback program and begin
.0143
      1   work toward ending excess shrimping effort and
      2   overcapitalization.
      3                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.
      4                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  What
      5   organization were you representing again?
      6                MS. BAKER:  Environmental Defense.
      7                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Formally known as
      8   Environmental Defense Fund?
      9                MS. BAKER:  Yes.
     10                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Name change, same
     11   organization.  Correct?
     12                MS. BAKER:  Right.
     13                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Any other
     14   questions?
     15                Thank you for bringing us your
     16   perspectives.  We appreciate your time and
     17   effort.
     18                Wilma Anderson.  And Brian Seibert,
     19   if you would be prepared to speak after
     20   Ms. Anderson.
     21                MS. ANDERSON:  Thank you,
     22   Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission.  I'm
     23   Wilma Anderson, executive director of the Texas
     24   Shrimp Association.  We represent the offshore
     25   trawlers -- I'm not with the bay industry -- and
.0144
      1   the shore side facilities that service that
      2   industry.  We have approximately 963 gulf
      3   trawlers that belong to our association.
      4                I'd like to hit on some things that
      5   I haven't heard in here today.  Shrimp is a
      6   species utilized by five states and the country
      7   of Mexico.  It's in a very high demand for its
      8   value.  It is not just a Texas species.  It
      9   belongs to everybody.
     10                If we lost our Texas crop under a
     11   yearly renewable resource such as shrimp, it
     12   would be replenished the following year.  You are
     13   not in a decline.  You are not in a collapse.
     14                I serve on the Shrimp Advisory Panel
     15   for the Gulf Council.  I work with Doctor Nance,
     16   and we look at the shrimp stock every year.
     17   We're not in a state of overfishing, nor are we
     18   approaching overfishing.  The shrimp stock has to
     19   drop below the parent stock for two years in a
     20   row to be in trouble.  We have not seen that.
     21                The long portfolios that we're going
     22   to look at on these offshore trawlers on these
     23   closures that's proposed for the gulf will be
     24   devastating.  For those of you not familiar with
     25   the gulf trawler, to build a new one today ranges
.0145
      1   anywhere from 450,000 to 650,000.  It's a very
      2   large investment.
      3                To close waters when we're already
      4   being penalized with testimony TEDs and BRDs in
      5   closed areas, the lenders that's sitting with
      6   these boat loans have hefty loan portfolios that
      7   could go into trouble, taking the bank and the
      8   fisherman into bankruptcy.
      9                We are very heavy committed in our
     10   schools, cities, and counties on the ad valorem
     11   taxes that supports and our leases that we pay.
     12   One vote in the 600,000 category may pay 18 to 20
     13   thousand dollars in ad valorem taxes.  We're a
     14   very substantial economic base to these fishing
     15   communities.
     16                In your shrimping industry, you have
     17   all ethnic groups that has the ability to come
     18   in, work hard.  Under the free enterprise, they
     19   can own a boat.  It is very discouraging to take
     20   a look that none of these proposed rules was
     21   there a regulatory analysis prepared to show any
     22   benefit or any impact that these rules would
     23   impose.  I own vessels.  I own three.  I know
     24   what that five-mile closure is going to do in the
     25   Gulf of Mexico.  It's going to be devastating.
.0146
      1                Fishing gear will have to be
      2   changed.  We will have to change from four nets
      3   to two 65s.  You're talking approximately $4,000
      4   a boat for that change.
      5                On sea turtles, I've heard and
      6   heard, and yesterday I faxed to you, Mr. Sansom,
      7   what is happening at Rancho Nuevo, Mexico.  The
      8   highest nesting you have ever seen is occurring
      9   this year on Rancho Nuevo.  Over 5,000 nests will
     10   be in Mexico.
     11                MR. SANSOM:  Thank you.
     12                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Do you have a
     13   summarizing remark you would like to make?
     14                MS. ANDERSON:  I think that these
     15   regs need to be totally relooked at.  You cannot
     16   manage this fishery on politics and media
     17   science.  It has to be on sound science and
     18   common sense.
     19                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Any questions for
     20   Ms. Anderson from the Commission?
     21                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  There was a
     22   question raised earlier concerning the nets and
     23   the changes that would need to be made.  Would
     24   you -- you referred to that in your comments.
     25                MS. ANDERSON:  Yes.  What we
.0147
      1   normally pull is four flat nets because they're
      2   more economical in deep water.  You're not going
      3   to decrease any fishing effort in that zone of
      4   265s.  You're probably going to increase when you
      5   look at it.  But for us to change from a 432 or a
      6   38-foot net to a two 65, we're probably talking,
      7   per rig, about $4,000 a side.
      8                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Ms. Dinkins?
      9                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Ms. Anderson,
     10   in addition to the $4,000 for the net change,
     11   though, the question that I had asked Mr. Osburn
     12   earlier was whether there was an impact that you
     13   could describe to -- with regard to the BRD being
     14   added, in terms of would it increase difficulty
     15   or time required for shrimping?
     16                MS. ANDERSON:  We're already in
     17   compliance with that, Ms. Dinkins.  Once they
     18   mandated it in the federal waters and you put
     19   BRDs in the nets -- there's one in each net in
     20   four nets, they're already being pulled in State
     21   waters.  We already have the TEDs.  We're under a
     22   mandate there under the Endangered Species Act.
     23   So we've been pulling the TEDs and BRDs.
     24                We just got a recent report on what
     25   the impact on the shrimp fishery is, and that's
.0148
      1   $39 million in shrimp loss, what we're incurring
      2   with TEDs and BRDs.
      3                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Is that just in
      4   Texas?
      5                MS. ANDERSON:  No.  That is for the
      6   gulf.
      7                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Gulfwide.
      8                MS. ANDERSON:  That is a dock-side
      9   landing with no economic added to it, Mr. Bass.
     10                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  But on the
     11   nets, if you put those on, would you see an
     12   impact in addition to the $4,000 for the
     13   out-of-pocket costs to the net itself.
     14                MS. ANDERSON:  Well, that would be
     15   to change your gear over from the four 38-foots
     16   to a two 65-foot.  You would have to buy new gear
     17   and new doors, the whole bit.  What I'm saying
     18   is, for us to take the four nets off of the
     19   current rig boat and put two 65s on to meet the
     20   mandate, we would be incurring that 4,000 per
     21   side, gear cost increase just to fish in those
     22   waters.
     23                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Thank you.
     24                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Other questions?
     25                Thank you, ma'am.
.0149
      1                The last person we have on tap today
      2   is Brian Sybert.  Good morning -- afternoon.
      3                MR. SYBERT:  Hi, Mr. Chairman,
      4   members of the Committee.  My name is Brian
      5   Sybert.  I'm the natural resources director for
      6   the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club.
      7                I would like to strongly urge the
      8   Commission today to move forward with the
      9   proposed regulations and publish in the Texas
     10   Register.  There's been an extensive amount of
     11   work done on this very difficult and complex
     12   issue by the Parks and Wildlife staff.  I feel
     13   that they have done a commendable job on trying
     14   to tackle this very difficult issue.  It took a
     15   year and a half of study.  There were numerous
     16   workshops held up and down the coast to gather
     17   input from the shrimp industry.  We were well
     18   aware throughout the entire process of the
     19   shrimp -- of the entire shrimp regulation review
     20   initiative.  So there was an opportunity, ample
     21   opportunity for both industry and other
     22   stakeholders to comment on this process.  And,
     23   again, I would strongly urge that we keep this
     24   process on the original time scale and keep
     25   moving forward.
.0150
      1                One thing that's been left out is
      2   that we've been focusing a lot lately on how this
      3   will affect the shrimp industry.  And I agree,
      4   the shrimp industry is a very important
      5   stakeholder in this process.  But there's another
      6   important stakeholder, and that is the public.
      7   The shrimp fishery, the saltwater game fish that
      8   are caught as bycatch, the five species of
      9   endangered sea turtles are all public resources.
     10                And the general public, the citizens
     11   of our state deserve an opportunity to comment on
     12   the management of these -- on the management of
     13   the shrimp fishery in a timely manner through an
     14   official public comment period.
     15                There's -- the Sierra Club, even
     16   though we don't agree with everything in the
     17   proposed regulations, we still want to see them
     18   move forward.  There's some aspects of it that
     19   we're very strongly supportive of.  There's other
     20   aspects we'd like to see changed.  We feel that
     21   the proposed closures will go a long way towards
     22   protecting habitat for white shrimp, the spawning
     23   grounds, protecting the five species of
     24   endangered sea turtles that migrate along the
     25   coast, and reducing bycatch of saltwater fish.
.0151
      1                For the northern half of the coast,
      2   we would like to see more protective measures
      3   than the gear restrictions.  We don't feel that
      4   the gear restrictions from basically Corpus
      5   Christi to the Texas/Louisiana border are
      6   sufficient to reduce the effort over the
      7   long-term because there will still be numerous
      8   boats that will still have access to that near
      9   shore area.
     10                We feel that the most effective way
     11   to reduce the effort in the northern part of the
     12   Texas coast would be through a closure similar to
     13   that that has been proposed for the southern half
     14   of the Texas coast.
     15                But, again, I would urge that we
     16   continue to move forward with this process.  This
     17   is a very important issue.  And the public does
     18   deserve their opportunity to comment through an
     19   official public comment period.  Thank you.
     20                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Any questions?
     21                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Is your
     22   organization's primary concern the turtles or the
     23   shrimp?
     24                MR. SYBERT:  Primarily our concern
     25   is going to be the bycatch, which is going to
.0152
      1   be -- a significant part of that is going to be
      2   the turtles, yes.
      3                We feel that the proposed -- as
      4   Jimmy Evans mentioned earlier, we feel that the
      5   proposed closure for the southern half of the
      6   Texas coast is very significant and will go a
      7   long way towards helping to reduce that problem.
      8                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.
      9                MR. SYBERT:  Thank you very much.
     10                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Mr. Sansom has
     11   pointed out to me that I may have inadvertently
     12   precluded Mr. Miller from the opportunity to make
     13   comments.  He gave his chair up rather quickly.
     14   And was --
     15                MR. MILLER:  Didn't want to go out
     16   of turn, Mr. Chairman.
     17                CHAIRMAN BASS:  -- and never quite
     18   had an opportunity to get back.
     19                MR. MILLER:  Right.
     20                CHAIRMAN BASS:  If you would,
     21   please, give us what comments you have to add to
     22   today's proceedings.
     23                MR. MILLER:  Thank you, Mr.
     24   Chairman, Commissioners.  My name is Robert
     25   Miller.  I'm an attorney with Locke, Liddell &
.0153
      1   Sapp, and we're cocounsel to the Vietnamese
      2   American Shrimpers Association.  On their behalf
      3   we ask that you not adopt these regulations
      4   today.  We ask that you delay them until the
      5   winter months so that a consensus can be
      6   reached.
      7                We believe that the regulations are
      8   not based on sound science.  Mr. Osburn himself
      9   conceded or stated in the Houston Chronicle on
     10   Sunday that there is not a biological crisis.  He
     11   stated that the reason for the regulations is to
     12   improve the profits of the industry.  Obviously
     13   the industry has great concern that their profit
     14   is going to be improved, as you heard from their
     15   compensate comments and their presence here
     16   today.  There's also been a lack of, shall we
     17   say, consensus in developing these.  I think
     18   there needs to be a better process of
     19   communicating with the association.  They very
     20   much do want to work with Parks and Wildlife.
     21   Obviously they are stewards in this resource but
     22   there certainly is a distrust and a
     23   misunderstanding or nonunderstanding as to the
     24   reason for these regulations.
     25                So what we ask is that, again, you
.0154
      1   delay the regulations.  Let's go back, let's sit
      2   down with the Shrimper's Advisory Board.  Let's
      3   have a dialogue.  Let's see if we can reach
      4   consensus.  What is the rush?  Why do they need
      5   to be adopted now?  This is not a moderate
      6   package in my clients' viewpoint.  They believe
      7   the regulations are restrictive and very
      8   burdensome on them.  They believe that it may
      9   cause severe economic arm to their industry
     10   without a sound scientific basis.  And they urge
     11   you not to adopt the regulations today.
     12                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Any questions?
     13                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  I would just
     14   say that we're not proposing to adopt the
     15   regulations today.  We're proposing to propose
     16   the regulations today.
     17                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I had a
     18   comment or question in the same direction,
     19   really.  I'm not sure that I understand why
     20   delaying publishing them is going to be that --
     21   make that much difference in the outcome.  I know
     22   that there's been testimony that people will have
     23   a difficult time being available to give their
     24   input.  But it seems to me that the organizations
     25   that represent the various parties can certainly
.0155
      1   make the input at any time.  And even if we
      2   decided to publish them, there's no commitment or
      3   obligation on the part of any of the
      4   commissioners to ultimately vote for them as
      5   presented.
      6                So it seems to me that if we had a
      7   90-day period, whenever that period was, to have
      8   them discussed publicly, to get all the input,
      9   that the Commission would then be in a much
     10   better position to make a decision on the
     11   specific rules at the time of considering
     12   adoption than we can right today.  And I don't
     13   know that our position is going to be benefited
     14   by waiting 90 days, 180 days, whatever it is, to
     15   get this public input that only comes once
     16   they're published.  Am I off track on that or --
     17                MR. MILLER:  Commissioner, I think
     18   you have two issues.  One is what you alluded to,
     19   is the fact that they are constantly working and
     20   this is their busy season and they don't feel
     21   like they have the opportunity to be able to
     22   adequately study and evaluate and input this
     23   process.
     24                I think the second issue is, you
     25   have a community, a very large community that
.0156
      1   feels like they've been excluded from this
      2   process.  Now, whether they have or not, they
      3   feel that way.  And I think that that's a very
      4   great issue.
      5                And what we're asking is, let's take
      6   the time, let's go back and see if we can develop
      7   the consensus.  I know, as commissioners,
      8   ultimately you're going to have to listen to the
      9   staff and the public testimony and then make an
     10   informed decision.  But I do think that you will
     11   agree that certainly this community feels like it
     12   has not been included in this process.  And all
     13   we're asking is, let's give them an opportunity.
     14   Let's see if we can make that work.  And at the
     15   end of the day, if you have to go forth, then
     16   you're going to have to go forth.
     17                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  And your
     18   position is that the 90 days that would start
     19   tomorrow are not sufficient?
     20                MR. MILLER:  It's basically a loaded
     21   gun to their head.  It starts the clock ticking,
     22   that the intent has been stated that the
     23   regulations will be adopted on August 31.  And so
     24   their perception will be, no, that it's not going
     25   to be a fair opportunity.
.0157
      1                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  From my
      2   perspective, that's not a correct perception.
      3   The perception is not the correct view as --
      4   certainly we're not obligated to adopt them at
      5   the end of that period.
      6                CHAIRMAN BASS:  I do think it's good
      7   to make clear that if we start the clock ticking,
      8   as you put it, with -- by publishing something
      9   that -- that does not obligate us to take
     10   anything into consideration in August.  It simply
     11   allows us to as the earliest date.  We could
     12   obviously extend past that should we so choose.
     13   And there have been issues in the past that that
     14   has been the case after publication, that it's
     15   been extended for further discussion or
     16   revision.
     17                I think it's also very important
     18   that everybody understand that if we were to go
     19   forward and publish this for comment, that does
     20   not bind the Commission to only voting on or
     21   considering the regulations strictly as published
     22   in August.
     23                Basically the government codes allow
     24   us to be less restrictive than what's published
     25   without publishing for a second time.  But the
.0158
      1   law requires that if we wish to propose
      2   regulations which are more restrictive, it would
      3   require a second publication and review period in
      4   the Texas Register.
      5                So if this committee today does go
      6   forward with publishing as proposed, it's very
      7   important that everyone understand, one, that
      8   does not bind us to having to vote in August on a
      9   set of regulations, nor does it limit us to only
     10   considering those proposed rules as published.
     11   We can change from the published format as long
     12   as that is one that is less restrictive on the
     13   industry.  So --
     14                And, Mr. Miller, I'm sure that you
     15   understand that.  But I want to be sure everybody
     16   in the audience understands those two very
     17   important points of government procedure that we
     18   have to operate under.
     19                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  It's also
     20   important that everyone realize that the
     21   Commission definitely had no intent to limit
     22   anyone's input.  And if that perception is out
     23   there, again, that's not -- it's not based on
     24   intent or fact.
     25                MR. MILLER:  We understand.  There
.0159
      1   is a feeling, though, that the community has not
      2   been adequately consulted by the Parks and
      3   Wildlife staff.
      4                COMMISSIONER AVILA:  Well, what I
      5   would like to add is, I think we hear that loud
      6   and clear.  Certainly the testimony has been
      7   given here today, and certainly the amount of
      8   Vietnamese Americans that have, you know, come to
      9   Austin to express their sentiments just by being
     10   here.
     11                Plus, I hear a lot of, we need to do
     12   some fine-tuning coming from all parties.  And as
     13   the chairman said, we have, in the past, been
     14   less restrictive when presented with, you know,
     15   some more scientific data or information.  And I
     16   would submit to you that I've also heard a lot of
     17   people speaking that said, we need to refer to
     18   the technical experts and y'all are all going to
     19   go to the same technical experts that are going
     20   to advise us, yourselves and us, as to what the
     21   situation is.
     22                And just for whatever, I was -- for
     23   the Vietnamese, I was an advisor to your 2nd
     24   Battalion 42nd armored regiment South Vietnamese
     25   Army in 1969-70 in Vietnam.
.0160
      1                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Other questions for
      2   Mr. Miller?
      3                MR. MILLER:  Thank you.
      4                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.
      5   Appreciate your comments and patience.
      6                Doctor McKinney, if you and
      7   Mr. Osburn would return for -- go back to -- just
      8   so we understand where we are in the committee
      9   process, I think what we have before us at this
     10   time for consideration by the committee are two
     11   different items and two different proposed
     12   motions by staff.
     13                The first would relate to the
     14   proposal and request by staff to publish in the
     15   Texas Register for public comment, the amended
     16   set of commercial shrimping regulations.  That
     17   would then be open for public comment, and during
     18   which time, between now and our next meeting,
     19   staff's intent would be to conduct quite a number
     20   of subsequent meetings with constituent groups up
     21   and down the coast.
     22                The second item before us for
     23   consideration at this time is from the -- Item 6
     24   from the finance committee, which is
     25   consideration of a $3 increase in the
.0161
      1   recreational saltwater stamp fee.  Those monies
      2   which would be spent dedicated to the buyback
      3   program with a five-year sunset on that, and that
      4   that action item would be to put that on the
      5   Commission's agenda for consideration tomorrow to
      6   actually be enacted as an action item and put
      7   into regulation for the license season commencing
      8   September 1.  So we have two issues to consider.
      9   I guess back to square one with Doctor McKinney
     10   and Mr. Osburn.
     11                The Chair would entertain further
     12   discussion or questions on these -- either of
     13   these issues.
     14                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  I did want to
     15   ask Mr. Osburn to go back to the reference to the
     16   Houston Chronicle article over the weekend,
     17   because I didn't understand that your motivation
     18   for working on these rules was only an economic
     19   motivation.  I had understood that it was also
     20   related to the future of the fishery on a basis
     21   other than just economics, as well as the
     22   bycatch.  And I wondered if you could just
     23   address that briefly.
     24                MR. OSBURN:  Yes, ma'am.  Let me
     25   tell you, I did not read the article.  I found
.0162
      1   that having this debate in the media has not been
      2   very successful.  So -- but there is a biological
      3   need associated with our proactive management
      4   strategy.  Bycatch is one of them.  The habitat
      5   impacts is another.
      6                The shrimp resource itself, for the
      7   long-term, we see trends in the size and numbers
      8   of shrimp that indicate, for the long-term, we --
      9   without reversing those trends, we will be in
     10   a -- we will be in a biological threat.  Today
     11   we're not in that -- we're not in a threat today
     12   in the sense that we have no time to do anything
     13   but enact stringent new regulations.
     14                We have an opportunity to be
     15   proactive, which is what this whole debate is
     16   about, is just getting a handle on this early.
     17   But without -- certainly there is an economic
     18   benefit to doing that and certainly the economic
     19   benefit parallels the biological benefit if our
     20   strategy of more shrimp and larger shrimp works.
     21   So we'd like to emphasize the economic benefits
     22   because that's how we can get better buy-in from
     23   the industry.  But the biological benefits are
     24   part of our underlying rationale.
     25                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  I also heard
.0163
      1   two references to Doctor Nance's work.  And I
      2   wondered if you could comment, because the
      3   remarks that were made about his work I took as
      4   being at odds with your conclusions and those of
      5   NMFS on the biological issue.
      6                MR. OSBURN:  I certainly regret that
      7   misunderstanding being there.  I take
      8   responsibility for that.  The exact same report
      9   that we're talking about, once again, definition
     10   of recruitment overfishing.  The stocks are not
     11   recruitment overfished.  But that same report
     12   indicates a 39-year downward trend in catch rates
     13   and a 39-year downward trend in size of shrimp.
     14   That same report says that the stocks are at full
     15   maximum exploitation.
     16                Doctor Nance, in a previous
     17   publication in his office, describes the need for
     18   proactive management before you get to a fully
     19   maximum exploited shrimp stock.  That's been
     20   their standard advice to managers.
     21                When they are asked for a technical
     22   definition of overfishing, what they have been
     23   able to come up with is defining the edge of the
     24   cliff.  And that's what they use.  And this
     25   department does not favor that as the technical
.0164
      1   definition of overfishing.  We think it's not
      2   precautionary enough.  We are going to ask
      3   National Marine Fishery Service to review their
      4   technical definition of that overfishing to move
      5   it back to a safer level.
      6                All of the advice from the
      7   scientific community, no matter what species
      8   you're studying, says, give yourself a margin of
      9   error.  We want to build a margin of error in the
     10   Texas shrimp fishery.  And that is -- but there
     11   is no difference between our conclusions and
     12   Doctor Nance's.  And the exact same report is the
     13   basis for that.  So I'm afraid that it's just
     14   folks that are aware of parts of it that aren't
     15   fully aware of the whole context.  Certainly
     16   there's a lot of room for debate on something
     17   like how many shrimp are out there in the world.
     18   And, you know, having to drain the gulf and prove
     19   that is just something we're not going to be able
     20   to do.  But we see warning signs, biological
     21   warning signs.  Basically if we can't manage for
     22   those warning signs, then I guess we're not
     23   managing at all.
     24                DR. McKINNEY:  I would make one
     25   observation.  I know the hour is late, so I'll be
.0165
      1   very quick.  But I'm not a fishery biologist.  I
      2   am an ecologist.  And one of the things that I've
      3   been doing through this past year and looking at
      4   Hal's -- the proposal from coastal fisheries, and
      5   working with this fishery is looking at what has
      6   happened historically in other types of
      7   fisheries.  I mean, that's the issue we have
      8   before us.
      9                And what I've seen in those types of
     10   situations is really classically what's happening
     11   here, is that taking a look and raising issues of
     12   science and challenging science and looking at
     13   less delay and try to work this thing out as Hal
     14   as put it, moving over the cliff, and what
     15   historically has happened is that then a lot of
     16   action is taken as hurtling down the cliff side,
     17   that is really too late.  And I don't think
     18   anyone wants to be in that position.
     19                So the proposal, I think, before
     20   everyone here is, what can we do now?  What
     21   combination can we do now so that we don't get
     22   into that problem?  Because I don't think you
     23   want to have us before you-all saying we have a
     24   problem to solve.  I think our job is to come to
     25   you and say, how can we prevent those problems
.0166
      1   from happening?  And that's really what we're
      2   trying to get at.
      3                MR. OSBURN:  I might also point out
      4   that we recognize and acknowledge the lack of
      5   consensus in the fishery.  And I will tell you
      6   that since 1985, when the legislature asked us to
      7   look into taking, you know, management authority
      8   for shrimp, we've been holding workshops for
      9   different industry groups.  And we can categorize
     10   different stakeholders in terms of their
     11   positions on these issues.  And the last 18
     12   months was a review of that same process, is
     13   where are the different stakeholders coming
     14   from?  What suggestions do they offer?  No, we
     15   did not hold up exact rules in front of them, but
     16   they had a -- they have a fishery and we were
     17   trying to describe and have them describe back to
     18   us how could we make this fishery better.  We got
     19   a very full range of comments, including from the
     20   Asian-Americans, including from turtle advocates,
     21   including from gulf bay recreational.  My staff
     22   was very diligent in having outreach efforts to
     23   folks.  And we categorized positions of
     24   stakeholders.
     25                Our approach at that point was to
.0167
      1   take those different positions back and weigh
      2   them against the biological science, the
      3   economics, other sciences in anthropology, and
      4   try to fit them together into a plan that
      5   captured the needs of as many stakeholders as we
      6   could within our biological mandates.
      7                So I don't think it's -- I recognize
      8   we don't have a consensus.  I would offer to you
      9   that we could have meetings from now until the
     10   end of the next century and not be able to
     11   develop consensus on some of these things.  You
     12   heard diametrically opposed positions about the
     13   status of sea turtles, for example.  And there is
     14   a balance in there somewhere that I know it's
     15   your job to achieve.  And our part in it was to
     16   try to find that balance and provide you pros and
     17   cons.  And that's why each of the recommendations
     18   before you has a list of pros and cons.  They're
     19   in an attempt to show you that consensus is not
     20   there but there is rationale on the side of each
     21   of these proposals.  And if they don't have a
     22   positive overall benefit, then we are not
     23   recommending them.
     24                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Any further comments
     25   or discussion, questions?
.0168
      1                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Just one,
      2   Mr. Chairman, get back to the COMMISSIONERman's
      3   question a little earlier concerning the
      4   information that we received this morning and the
      5   differences between this information and that
      6   that we already had.  And I think, Carol, your
      7   question was that there were just two major
      8   differences?   I just want to get that clear.
      9                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Yes.
     10                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Because that's
     11   something else that we're going to have to take
     12   into consideration as we move forward for the
     13   full meeting.
     14                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  I've been
     15   looking through the package while we've been here
     16   this morning.  And what I had asked Mr. Osburn
     17   was if he could identify one or two of the most
     18   dramatic changes between what we have seen in our
     19   briefing materials and what we got here, which he
     20   kindly did.
     21                But I think that the summary that
     22   they have at the very beginning of what we saw in
     23   the bold type, about the more restrictive rules
     24   that were deleted from the first proposals -- and
     25   correct me if I've misunderstood this.  I think
.0169
      1   that's what their real summary is, to try and
      2   tell us upfront how reduced or sought to reduce
      3   the impact of the proposed regulations by making
      4   these five changes and what they had originally
      5   proposed and what we got now.
      6                But I'm not saying that all of those
      7   are different from what was in the briefing.
      8   But, really, I think what I was trying to
      9   highlight, also, was what had changed, what had
     10   been reduced by way of severity of the proposed
     11   regulations from what they presented to us the
     12   last time before they got more workshops and more
     13   discussions with people in the fisheries and what
     14   we saw this morning.
     15                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  I just raised
     16   that issue because certainly that would have some
     17   consideration -- could possibly have some
     18   consideration on the comments that were made this
     19   morning, since they haven't seen these proposed
     20   changes that are before us, I believe.
     21                CHAIRMAN BASS:  I believe they
     22   have.
     23                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  They have?
     24                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Yeah.  These are
     25   changes from the proposals that were discussed in
.0170
      1   the April meeting with the Shrimp Advisory
      2   Council.
      3                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Okay.  I see.
      4                CHAIRMAN BASS:  But these changes
      5   have been in the public realm for various lengths
      6   of time since then.
      7                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Okay.  I
      8   think --
      9                DR. McKINNEY:  My comment.  I think
     10   Commissioner Angelo summarized it very concisely
     11   about what the staff position would be as far as
     12   moving forward.  I mean, I was very gratified to
     13   hear a number of the speakers this morning talk
     14   about well, fine-tuning, we would like to work
     15   through some process to try to come to a
     16   conclusion.
     17                I would submit that I will not use
     18   Mr. Miller's terms of holding a gun to the head.
     19   But I think more of an incentive, putting the
     20   rules on the table as proposed, as incentive to
     21   work through that period of time, over 90 days.
     22   Frankly, if we can't reach it over that period of
     23   time, we probably won't.  But I think if we work
     24   together like they're talking about, we can make
     25   some good progress to come back to you in
.0171
      1   August.  And then you can, obviously, as
      2   appropriate, make a decision on whether we have
      3   done so or not.  But I think that incentive to
      4   move forward is pretty necessary, just from my
      5   experience.
      6                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  In that
      7   regard, I would have a very difficult time if we
      8   were talking about voting on these regulations
      9   tomorrow, to vote for them, with all the comment
     10   we've heard today from people who feel they
     11   weren't adequately informed or who have very
     12   strong differences of opinion about the facts.
     13                But I would certainly hope that
     14   within 90 days, we could be presented with a lot
     15   more information that would aid us in reaching a
     16   decision that would be as fair as possible and
     17   also accomplish something.  So it seems to me
     18   that 90 days should be long enough to do that.
     19                COMMISSIONER AVILA:  And even
     20   moreover than that, but in fact the fine-tuning
     21   has taken place.
     22                DR. McKINNEY:  Quite a bit of it
     23   has, I believe, yes, sir.
     24                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Well, I think
     25   the staff ought to be complemented on the
.0172
      1   presentation they've made today.  I think it's
      2   been very helpful to us.
      3                And I agree with Commissioner
      4   Angelo.  I believe that, you know, the next 90
      5   days ought to be a sufficient time for us to get
      6   up to speed to make any further changes or
      7   modifications to lessen the impact of the
      8   regulations.  And, you know, I -- I don't know if
      9   it's appropriate right now.  But I would like to
     10   have us move to support the recommendation of the
     11   staff to publish these regulations in the Texas
     12   Register.
     13                CHAIRMAN BASS:  We have a motion.
     14                COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Second.
     15                CHAIRMAN BASS:  The motion is
     16   seconded.  Any further discussion of the motion?
     17   I think -- I just want to call a vote.  I think
     18   that there certainly, as on all issues, a desire
     19   by the Commission that all stakeholders and
     20   constituents have opportunity to comment and have
     21   a voice.  And I think as Mr. Osburn pointed out,
     22   having your feelings known doesn't -- isn't
     23   always synonymous with having an agreement.  But
     24   I would admonish the staff to continue to make
     25   every effort to see that all stakeholders have an
.0173
      1   opportunity to have whatever degree of input and
      2   level of input in the process as they are willing
      3   to come to the table with.
      4                The Chair has a motion and a
      5   second.  Any further discussion?  The Chair would
      6   call a vote.  All in favor?  Any opposed?
      7   Hearing none, the motion carries.
      8                        (Motion passed unanimously.)
      9                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I would, if
     10   it's appropriate, move approval of the
     11   recommendation regarding the $3 increase.
     12                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Motion to --
     13                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Second.
     14                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Second for the
     15   finance committee, Item 6, to accept the staff's
     16   recommendation on that for consideration in
     17   tomorrow's meeting.  All in favor?  Any opposed?
     18   Motion carries.
     19                        (Motion passed unanimously.)
     20                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Ms. Dinkins would
     21   like to make a comment before we adjourn the regs
     22   committee meeting, please.
     23                COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  I just wanted
     24   to say that I hope we will also be cognizant in
     25   considering the proposed regulations as to
.0174
      1   whether we do need to take a look at any specific
      2   law enforcement issues.  Because I'm very
      3   concerned that as we consider the regs at a
      4   future meeting, after comments, that we also
      5   recognize that to make them effective, that they
      6   have to be evenhanded in compliance.  And I
      7   greatly appreciate that the compliance level is
      8   high.  But I wouldn't want them to be competitive
      9   disadvantaged to those who comply if we do adopt
     10   more restrictive regulations at some point in the
     11   future.
     12                And so if we need to consider that
     13   in the budget process, I would surely hope that
     14   it would be part of the consideration.
     15                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Point well taken.
     16                There's no further business to come
     17   before the regulations committee, which I will
     18   declare adjourned.
     19                We, at this point, will go into
     20   executive session, which I would like to announce
     21   that pursuant to the requirements of Chapter 551
     22   Government Code referred to as the Open Meetings
     23   Law, an executive session will be held at this
     24   time for the purpose of consideration of land
     25   transactions.
.0175
      1                I would -- those division directors
      2   and members of the staff that are here that have
      3   issues on this -- on the rest of today's agenda,
      4   I would urge you to be sure that you're prepared
      5   to make very expedited and efficient
      6   presentations this afternoon.  We have not gotten
      7   very far in our agenda and we're well into the
      8   afternoon.  So be prepared to move quick and be
      9   concise and to the point when we reconvene.
     10   Thank you very much.  We'll see you after lunch.
     11                      *-*-*-*-*
     12                 (HEARING ADJOURNED.)
     13                      *-*-*-*-*
     14
     15
     16
     17
     18
     19
     20
     21
     22
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     25
.0176
      1                REPORTER'S CERTIFICATE
      2   STATE OF TEXAS   )
          COUNTY OF TRAVIS )
      3
      4        I, MELODY RENEE DeYOUNG, a Certified Court
      5   Reporter in and for the State of Texas, do hereby
      6   certify that the above and foregoing 174 pages
      7   constitute a full, true and correct transcript of
      8   the minutes of the Texas Parks and Wildlife
      9   Commission on MAY 31, 2000, in the commission
     10   hearing room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife
     11   Headquarters Complex, Austin, Travis County,
     12   Texas.
     13        I FURTHER CERTIFY that a stenographic record
     14   was made by me a the time of the public meeting
     15   and said stenographic notes were thereafter
     16   reduced to computerized transcription under my
     17   supervision and control.
     18        WITNESS MY HAND this the 8TH day of AUGUST,
     19   2000.
     20
     21
     22          MELODY RENEE DeYOUNG, RPR, CSR NO. 3226
                 Expiration Date:  12-31-00
     23          3101 Bee Caves Road
                 Centre II, Suite 220
     24          Austin, Texas  78746
                 (512) 328-5557
     25   EBS NO. 40483

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