Regulations Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 a.m., August 30, 2000

Commission Hearing Room
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
Item
No.
Subject Public Hearing
Agenda Item No.
  Approval of the Committee Minutes from the previous meeting.  
  Summary of Minutes  
1. Chairman's Charges (Oral Presentation) Committee Only
2. Trap, Transport and Transplant
Staff: Jerry Cooke
8
3. 2000-2001 Shrimp Management Proclamation
Staff: Hal Osburn
6
4. Threatened and Endangered Species Regulations
Staff: John Herron
7
5. Migratory Game Bird Proclamation – Late Season
Staff: Vernon Bevill
10
6. Other Business  

Summary of Minutes
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Regulations Committee
April 5, 2000

BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 31st day of May 2000, there came to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Parks and Wildlife Commission of Texas, in the commission hearing room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Headquarters complex, Austin, Travis County, Texas, beginning at 9:25 a.m., to wit:

APPEARANCES:
THE PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION

REGULATIONS COMMITTEE

CHAIR: Lee M. Bass

Carol E. Dinkins
Dick W. Heath (absent)
Nolan Ryan
Ernest Angelo, Jr.
John Avila, Jr.
Alvin L. Henry
Katherine Armstrong Idsal
Mark E. Watson, Jr.

THE PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:

Andrew H. Sansom, Executive Director
II. APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

Chairman Lee Bass entertained a motion by Commissioner Angelo to accept the minutes of the April 5, 2000 meeting of the Regulations Committee. The motion to approve the minutes was seconded by Commissioner Henry and approved unanimously.

III. THE FOLLOWING ITEMS WERE PRESENTED FOR COMMITTEE ACTION:

BRIEFING – CHAIRMAN’S CHARGES

Presenter: Andrew Sansom

Mr. Sansom briefed the Commission on the status of the Chairman’s Charges. One of the charges was to fully participate in the Sunset Review process. The Sunset Commission has finished its work and the final report will be issued in June. Mr. Sansom expressed his appreciation to the Commissioners for their assistance in this process. Another charge was to optimize license management in marine commercial fisheries. Two items on the agenda address that. Also, regulatory reform is being continued to improve exotic species rules. Finally, Mr. Sansom reminded the Commission about this year’s Expo scheduled for September 30th and October 1st.

ACTION – 2000-2001 Migratory Game Bird Proclamation
Presenters – Gary Graham and Vernon Bevill

The chair recognized Vernon Bevill, Migratory Wildlife and Ecology program director. Mr. Bevill outlined proposed changes to the early-season portion of the Migratory Game Bird Proclamation for 2000-2001, including a Friday opener for early teal season, new crane zones, and season dates for dove, rail, and gallinule. Chairman Bass asked if anything prevented the commission from moving the crane season to an earlier opener. Mr. Bevill replied that it would be possible, provided it was consistent with the frameworks issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Mr. Bevill continued, explaining the options available to the commission with respect to crane zones. Chairman Bass entertained a motion by Commissioner Henry to forward the item to the full commission for adoption. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Angelo and passed without opposition.

ACTION – Threatened and Endangered Species
Presenter – John Herron

The chair recognized John Herron, Wildlife Diversity program director. Mr. Herron apprised the committee of proposed changes to regulations concerning threatened and endangered species, consisting of the removal of a regulatory inconsistency with respect to possession of certain species, streamlining of regulations, and listing actions. Chairman Bass and Commissioner Dinkins inquired as to the status of sale and propagation of threatened and endangered species. Mr. Herron replied that sale and propagation for sale would be prohibited. Chairman Bass entertained a motion by Commissioner Angelo to authorize staff to publish the proposed regulations in the Texas Register for public comment. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Idsal and passed without opposition.

ACTION – MLD/TTT Workgroup Update
Presenters – Andrew Sansom and Robert Cook

The chair recognized Chief Operating Officer Robert L. Cook. Mr. Cook informed the committee of the results of two meetings with an advisory board assembled by Mr. Sansom to make recommendations with respect to regulations concerning Managed Lands Deer permits and permits to trap, transport, and transplant game animals and game birds (Triple T). Mr. Cook reported that the meetings were very productive, resulting in the reconstitution of the MLD program as an incentive program, rather than a reward program, the proposed creation of an intermediate level of MLD permit, and provision for minimum impact releases. Commissioner Watson asked if the proposed rule would affect importation of deer. Mr. Cook responded that importation was under the jurisdiction of other regulations. Mr. Cook then introduced Jerry Cooke, Upland Wildlife Ecology program director, who provided a detailed analysis of proposed changes to the regulations, including the three levels of MLD permits and their various requirements and privileges; a provision for waiving certain management practices when natural conditions make them impractical, impossible, or dangerous; limitations on participation for persons who violate the regulations; a timeframe for guaranteed application disposition; a requirement for antler removal at certain times; and reporting and marking requirements. Commissioner asked Mr. Cook if there had been any opposition on the committee to any of the proposals. Mr. Cook responded that he didn't think so. Commissioner Angelo asked if staff anticipated any problems with respect to a landowner moving deer from one property to another without having to remove the antlers. Mr. Cooke responded that he did not believe there would be problems, but that staff obviously would monitor the situation. Commissioner Dinkins commended the advisory board members and staff for their work. Chairman Bass asked if the timeframe for guaranteed processing of Triple T permits could also be made a feature of the MLD regulations. Mr. Cook responded that it could quite easily be incorporated into the regulations. Chairman Bass entertained a motion by Commissioner Henry to authorize staff to publish the proposed regulations in the Texas Register for public comment. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Angelo and passed without opposition.

ACTION – Harmful or Potentially Harmful Exotic Fish, Shellfish and Aquatic Plants

Presenter – Joedy Gray

Joedy Gray of the Inland Fisheries Division presented proposed exotic species rules. The changes will correct the scientific name for several species of penaeid shrimps referred to throughout the rules. Changes to §§57.113 and 57.118 will provide permits for removal of prohibited plant species from public waters and allow operators of wastewater treatment facilities to possess permitted exotic species for water treatment purposes. Changes to §57.123 will require annual reports to be submitted to the department by permittees that import, transport, transfer or sell triploid grass carp. The changes were published in the April 28, 2000 issue of the Texas Register and the department received no comments. Staff recommended that the Regulations Committee forward the proposed amendments to the full Commission for adoption, with consideration for placement on the Consent Agenda. Commissioner Angelo inquired if these changes would simplify and improve the process. Mr. Gray responded it would. The chair entertained a motion from Commissioner Angelo to forward the proposal to the full commission for adoption. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Idsal and passed without opposition.

ACTION – Proposed 2000-2001 Shrimp Management Proclamation

Presenters – Dr. Larry McKinney and Hal Osburn

Chairman Bass called for Item 6 on the agenda, Proposed Shrimp Management Proclamation. He recommended, with permission from Commissioner Angelo, that the increase in the saltwater fishing stamp fee be included in this presentation, as the two were closely related. Commissioner Angelo agreed. Chairman Bass indicated there would be eight speakers representing various constituencies who were available for public comment. Chairman Bass recognized Hal Osburn, Director of the Coastal Fisheries Division, and Dr. Larry McKinney, Senior Director of Aquatic Resources, and acknowledged the work staff had done to get to this point in the process. Chairman Bass briefly reviewed the regulatory process and that there would be additional time for public input. Hal Osburn briefed the Committee on staff’s efforts to review the status of the Texas shrimp fishery, and to conduct several workshops with stakeholders and industry members. He then reviewed various proposals including 1) several liberalizations to the rules; 2) establishing a minimum count size for shrimp for the bait and bay shrimping industry; and 3) increasing the amount of designated nursery area. Chairman Bass, Commissioner Watson and Commissioner Henry asked for clarification of the nursery area proposals. Mr. Osburn provided the clarification. Mr. Osburn continued with his review of the proposals including: 4) establishment of a northern and southern shrimp zone; 5) creating a permanent no-shrimping area from the beach out to 5 nautical miles in the southern zone; 6) moderate increases in trawl mesh sizes; and 7) gear limitations in the north zone from the beach out to 5 nautical miles. Commissioner Watson asked if two different nets were currently required during fall season. Mr. Osburn responded that the 1-3/4 inch mesh was required from August 15 to November 1, after which the mesh size could be smaller. Staff was recommending the 1-3/4 inch mesh for the entire season. Commissioner Avila asked if shrimpers would have to invest in new nets or if they had nets of the proposed sizes. Mr. Osburn indicated that they may have to get new trawls but the proposed rules allowed a long phase-in time for gear replacement. Commissioner Watson asked if there were an effective bycatch reduction device for the bays. Mr. Osburn returned to his review of the proposals which included mandatory use of bycatch reduction devices and turtle excluder devices in all but a small group of trawls. Commissioner Angelo asked what the affect on shrimping efficiency would be. Mr. Osburn indicated it depended upon the type of device and how it was used, but staff has tested the Sea Eagle and has indicated a zero loss of shrimp and a 20% reduction in bycatch, however, there can be losses of shrimp. Commissioner Dinkins asked where both devices would be used. Mr. Osburn related they are currently required in gulf nets in Texas and federal waters. Commissioner Dinkins asked if the devices cut down on time or increased shrimping difficulty when they are both used. Mr. Osburn clarified the difference between the two devices and how they worked. Commissioner Dinkins asked if the model of the bycatch reduction device she had was similar in size to that which was being proposed. Mr. Osburn responded in the affirmative, but might be slightly larger for gulf trawls. Commissioner Idsal asked where the device was placed in the net. Mr. Osburn indicated a diagram in the Commissioners’ packet that shows the placement. Chairman Bass asked for clarification of the bycatch reduction device exemptions. Mr. Osburn provided the clarification. Commissioner Henry asked if the comment from Dr. Zimmerman from National Marine Fisheries Service regarding a lack of conflict between state and federal data was NMFS official position. Mr. Osburn responded that it was. Commissioner Henry and Commissioner Angelo asked why the apparent conflict in the first place. Mr. Osburn responded that it was over the public’s confusion of the two terms "recruitment overfishing" and "growth overfishing". He explained the difference, and indicated that NMFS publications called for reduction in shrimping effort in the bays and gulf in Texas. Mr. Osburn summarized up his presentation to the Commission by stating the Department is aware that creating the perfect shrimp fishery rules is an ongoing process and there is a need for better and increased communication between the Department and stakeholders. Mr. Osburn also recommended enhancing law enforcement, and monitoring compliance and conviction rates. Mr. Robertson, director of law enforcement, briefed the Commission on enforcement of current shrimp fishery rules. He stated compliance was relatively high. Poaching, at this time, does not represent a large portion of the catch. Mr. Osburn addressed the use of the Shrimp Advisory Committee for input on the proposed rules. The Committee had been involved through a number of meetings, although communications can always be improved. He explained that the Committee, and other stakeholders, can enter into the department's outreach methods which include eight additionally proposed public hearings. Staff would also be available to meet with any group requesting a meeting. Commissioner Dinkins and Idsal asked about differences between the current proposals and the original proposals. Mr. Osburn discussed the major differences and showed how some rules had been liberalized to provide the most benefit to conservation but have the least impact on the industry. Examples of liberalization were given such as: creation of a winter bay food season in February, March, and April, and removal of the requirement to maintain 50% of the bait alive.

Dr. McKinney briefed the Commission on the effects of increasing the saltwater stamp to generate funds needed to increase the buy back program. The Department goal is to retire up to 50% of the shrimp licenses and as part of the proposal, to include crab and finfish licenses. The stamp increase would generate over $7 million over the five-year period it would be in affect. The Department will also continue to look for other sources of funding for the buy back program. From the comments received from stakeholders to date, 60 - 70% are in favor of the stamp increase proposal. Mr. Osburn stated that $160,000 - $170,000 a year is generated for the buy back program throught the sale of commercial license sales. The proposed saltwater stamp fee would generate an additional $1.4 million annually. Chairman Bass asked about the origination of the 50% reduction in licenses goal. Mr. Osburn stated it was taken from Department data that show a 50% reduction in catch rates since the 1970s. Dr. McKinney commented that three licenses retired is equivalent to taking two boats out of the fishery.

Chairman Bass called for the first public speaker, Mr. C. L. Stanley, chairman of the Shrimp Advisory Committee. Mr. Stanley stated he was concerned with the interpretation of shrimp fishery data by the Department. The Department's interpretation of data shows a long-term downward trend in population of adult shrimp spawning, which is indicative of overfishing. The Advisory Committee sited a report by Dr. Jim Nance (Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council) that stated shrimp stocks were healthy and there was no sign of overfishing. Another statistician from the Texas A&M Sea Grant program was sited as disagreeing with the Department's fishery trend analysis. The second speaker was Mr. Jimmy Evans, bait and tackle store owner and member of the Shrimp Advisory Committee. Mr. Evans basically agreed with the findings by the Department and stated other members of the Advisory Committee disapproved of all the proposals. He stated he was not at the Advisory meetings to give blanket disapproval but to listen to each proposal and evaluate its impacts. Ms. Tammy Tran, counsel for the Vietnamse-American Shrimper Association was the next speaker. She, along with Ms. Twi Vu and Mr. Robert Miller voiced their concerns that this group of shrimpers was not adequately contacted and did not play a major role in the development of the proposed rules. They also felt there was a general lack of scientific information to support the conclusion that the shrimp stocks were being overfished. They felt the proposals should be delayed. Other speakers followed. Mr. Kevin Daniels (Executive Director of the Coastal Conservation Association) basically supported the proposals but did not feel that the stamp fee increase would actually reduce fishing effort through the buy back process. Mr. Richard Moore (member of Calhoun County Shrimpers) commented that the shrimping industry has not had enough time to review the proposals or provide input and asked the Commission to delay implementation. Ms. Pam Baker (fishery biologist for Environmental Defense) agreed with the Department's proposals and wanted to see stricter rules in some cases. Mr. Brian Seibert (Natural Resources Director of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club) asked the Commission to move forward with the proposals, even though there are some items all members of the Club do not agree totally with. Club members' major concerns involved the bycatch issue. Ms. Wilma Anderson (Executive Director of the Texas Shrimp Association) disagreed that there was an overfishing problem in Texas because the shrimp would be replenished from through out the Gulf of Mexico. She was also concerned that changes in gear would put a cost burden on the industry and stated that the turtle population in Mexico is increasing. In concluding, Ms. Anderson stated all the proposals needed to be reviewed again and decisions based on sound scientific evidence and common sense.

After the comments, Commissioner Dinkins stated that the Commission was not proposing to accept the rules today but rather to decide if the proposals should be brought forward for a vote at a future time. A general discussion among Commission members transpired concerning starting the 90-day public review process by publishing the proposals in the Texas Register. Chairman Bass called for a vote by the Commission to publish the proposed rules in the Texas Register for public comment. Commissioner Watson moved to have the proposed rules published, Commissioner Idsal seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. Commissioner Angelo motioned for the second item, $3 recreational saltwater stamp fee increase proposal, to be moved forward to full Commission meeting. Commissioner Watson seconded the motion and it was approved unanimously.

IV. OTHER BUSINESS - None.

ADJOURNMENT:
There being no further business, Chairman Bass adjourned the May 31, 2000 meeting of the Regulations Committee of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at 1:00 p.m.


Committee Agenda Item No. 1
Presenter: Andrew Sansom

Regulations Committee
Chairman's Charges
August 2000

(This item will be an oral presentation.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenter: Jerry Cooke

Regulations Committee
Permits to Trap, Transport and Transplant
August 2000

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 8.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenter: Hal Osburn

Regulations Committee
2000-2001 Shrimp Management Proclamation
August 2000

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Presenter: John Herron

Regulations Committee
Threatened and Endangered Species Regulations
August 2000

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 5
Presenter: Vernon Bevill

Regulations Committee
2000-2001 Migratory Game Bird Proclamation
Late Season Provisions
August 2000

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 10.)


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