Regulations Committee

Wednesday, 9:00 a.m., Nov. 8, 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. Legislative Regulations Review
Staff: Gene McCarty
3
3. Potential Changes to the Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation 2001-2002
Staff: Gary Graham, Paul Hammerschmidt, Phil Durocher
Committee Only
4. Petition for Rulemaking
Staff: Robin Reichers
4
5. Petition for Rulemaking – Quail Season
Staff: Jerry Cooke
Committee Only
6. Managed Lands Deer Permits
Staff: Robin Riechers
6
7. Statewide Aquatic Vegetation Management Rules
Staff: Robert Sweeney
5
8. Other Business  

Summary of Minutes
Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Regulations Committee

August 30, 2000

BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 30th day of August 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 9:30 a.m., to wit:

I. COMMISSION ATTENDANCE

Chair: Lee Bass
Nolan Ryan
Richard Heath
Alvin L. Heney
Carol Dinkins
Katharine Armstrong Idsal
John Avila, Jr.
Ernest Angelo, Jr.
Mark E. Watson, Jr.

II. OPENING STATEMENT:

Mr. Andrew Sansom, Executive Director, read the opening statement into the record.

III. CHAIRMAN’S CHARGES and APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

Chairman Bass began the proceedings by calling for a report on the Chairman’s Charges. Chairman Bass recognized Executive Director Andrew Sansom, who briefed the Committee on the Chairman’s Charges. Chairman Bass then entertained a motion to approve the minutes of the May 31, 2000 meeting of the Regulations Committee. A motion for approval was made by Commissioner Heath and seconded by Commissioner Henry. Motion passed unanimously.

Chairman Bass indicated that the Committee would address the agenda items out of the original order to accommodate scheduling issues with staff.

AGENDA ITEM NO. 5: ACTION - MIGRATORY GAME BIRD PROCLAMATION - LATE SEASON

The Chair recognized Vernon Bevill, migratory wildlife program director. Mr. Bevill began by providing details of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service actions and how they impacted the department's regulatory proposals for sandhill cranes and late-season species of migratory game birds. Mr. Bevill also notified the Committee that an additional day of youth-only waterfowl hunting had been offered by the federal government. Commissioner Angelo asked if any progress had been made with respect to increasing the bag limit for white-fronted geese. Mr. Bevill responded that the white fronts in the Western Zone were coming from the smaller Pacific population and that the Fish and Wildlife Service did not concur with the request for a higher bag limit. Chairman Bass asked how much of the sandhill crane season would be curtailed due to the light goose conservation season. Mr. Bevill replied that approximately half the season would be lost. Chairman Bass asked for an approximate figure of impacted hunters. Mr. Bevill replied that the number was around 2,000. Chairman Bass then asked how many hunters were thought to take advantage of the conservation season. Mr. Bevill responded that staff was currently in the process of trying to determine the level of participation, although it was thought that over 100,000 geese had been taken the previous season. Mr. Bevill then proceeded to inform the Committee of season dates for ducks, mergansers and coots, youth-only waterfowl hunting, and falconry. Chairman Bass then entertained a motion from Commissioner Angelo to forward the item to the full Commission for adoption. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Ryan and passed unanimously.

AGENDA ITEM NO. 2: ACTION - TRAP, TRANSPORT, AND TRANSPLANT

Chairman Bass recognized Jerry Cooke, program director for Upland Wildlife Ecology. Mr. Cooke notified the Committee that in addition to the substantive amendments to the regulations, staff had also made changes in compliance with the Chairman's Sunset charge. Mr. Cooke then informed the Committee of staff recommendations for changes to the proposed regulations, primarily responses to public comments concerning reporting requirements and release criteria, alterations of dates, and housekeeping. Mr. Cooke continued by providing a summary of staff outreach efforts and the results of public comment. Commissioner Idsal asked if the marking of trailers would be by decal. Mr. Cooke responded that trailers could be marked in any fashion so long as the effect was compliance with the particulars of the regulation. The motion passed without opposition.

AGENDA ITEM NO. 3: ACTION – 2000-2001 Shrimp Management Proclamation

Chairman Bass recognized the presence of Senator Burnsen from the Beaumont area. Dr. Larry McKinney Senior Director for Aquatic Resources introduced the issues regarding shrimp management. Dr. McKinney reviewed three areas, environmental impacts on the shrimping industry, bycatch studies, and basic shrimp management science. Dr. McKinney also reviewed a series of key glossary terms with the Commissioners. Dr. McKinney then introduced guest speakers to address the various issues. Guest speakers were Dr. Adolfo Gracia senior scientist from the National University of Mexico, Dr. Roger Zimmerman, Director of the National Marine Fisheries Service Laboratory, Galveston, Texas and Dr. James Nance, Chief of the Fishery Management Branch of NMFS Laboratory. Dr. Gracia then gave his presentation regarding overfishing of shrimp populations in the south of the Gulf of Mexico. Chairman Bass asked if there were questions for Dr. Gracia. Commissioner Angelo asked about reaction of the Mexican shrimping industry to the closures in that country. Dr. Gracia responded there were mixed reactions. Offshore brown shrimp fishermen accepted the changes well, and offered an extended closure in the Gulf. The Campeche Banks fishermen did not like the closures because it caused shorter shrimping times and required greater distances to travel.

Dr. McKinney introduced Drs. Zimmerman and Nance. Dr. Zimmerman stated he was representing Dr. Bill Hogarth Regional Administrator of the Southeast Fisheries Service, and introduced Dr. Jim Nance. Dr. Zimmerman made his presentation regarding the shrimp fishery, status of the stocks, and shrimp fishery data. Commissioner Ryan asked Dr. Zimmerman if a substantial reduction of shrimp would be noticed during drought periods. Dr. Zimmerman responded that drought impacts different species differently. Specifically, brown shrimp prefer slightly saltier water than do white shrimp, but prolonged droughts could negatively impact all species. Commissioner Ryan asked if the timing of the drought had an impact. Dr. Zimmerman responded that timing could have a serious impact. Commissioner Dinkins asked for clarification on NMFS responsibility over shrimp. Dr. Zimmerman responded the agency’s responsibility was regulatory in nature in the offshore (federal) waters. Commissioner Dinkins asked if Dr. Zimmerman saw the proposed regulations as consistent with federal goals and management strategies for shrimp. Dr. Zimmerman responded in the affirmative and reiterated that both agencies were required to take a conservative approach meaning both a conservation- and a low-risk approach. Commissioner Dinkins asked about Dr. Nance’s publication record and whether his publications dealt with shrimp. Dr. Nance responded affirmatively. Commissioner Dinkins commented that one of Dr. Nance’s publications observed that there was a possibility of recruitment overfishing of shrimp in Texas. Dr. Nance responded that there is always that possibility. Dr. Zimmerman commented that when you have a stock that is being exploited at its maximum level, as are shrimp, then you are getting close to the line of recruitment overfishing. Commissioner Angelo asked if NMFS was considering any further regulations in federal waters. Dr. Zimmerman responded that NMFS was not. Mr. Andrew Sansom reinforced that growth overfishing is occurring in the shrimp fishery, which is the step just above recruitment overfishing. Dr. Zimmerman responded affirmatively. Commissioner Ryan asked if they had looked at staff’s recommendations. Dr. Zimmerman responded they have not looked at them in critical detail. Commissioner Henry asked how the question of ownership of offshore resources is addressed by NMFS. Dr. Zimmerman responded they are public resources and are owned by the public. Commissioner Henry asked if Dr. Gracia’s information of shrimp overfishing in Mexico caused NMFS additional concern. Dr. Zimmerman responded it is an example where changes in effort in one area affect another area. Chairman Bass asked for clarification about the data used by NMFS and TPW. Dr. Zimmerman responded the catch data (fishery dependent) were the same. Chairman Bass asked for a professional opinion about the quality and quantity of data were adequate to make management decisions. Dr. Zimmerman detailed that the data were very extensive and they were a good census on amount that was caught. Interviews with fishermen could be improved, but are still robust and have gone through many reviews. Chairman Bass asked if there were further questions for these presenters. The Chair recognized Representative Solis who was present at the meeting.

Dr. McKinney introduced Mr. Hal Osburn, Director of the Coastal Fisheries Division. Mr. Osburn presented staffs recommendations for changes to shrimp fishery regulations, including revisions to the original proposals. Commissioner Angelo asked how many favorable comments came from commercial fishery members. Commissioner Angelo asked how soon we would expect measurable results as rules take effect. Mr. Osburn related that staff’s recommendation to closely monitor the fishery annually for at least 5 years would help make that determination, but that we should see results in bycatch much sooner. Dr. McKinney injected that was the reason for trying to get bycatch reduction devices into the fishery as soon as possible. Dr. McKinney provided Commissioner Angelo’s initial question about industry’s comments. Commissioner Dinkins asked for the agency’s authority to make the regulations, and if there was a basis to make regulations for economic reasons. Mr. Osburn related that authority came from seven different chapters of the Parks and Wildlife Code and that economics was not to be the sole reason for regulations. Commissioner Dinkins asked Mr. Osburn to summarize the most important biological reasons for recommending the proposals. Mr. Osburn responded it was for the long-term risk management of the species and fishery. Commissioner Dinkins asked if Mr. Osburn viewed the proposals as being consistent with the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan. Mr. Osburn responded to the affirmative. In terms of the 5-year study, does staff infer the agency would not address shrimp within that time frame, or is there room for action if necessary. Mr. Osburn responded that staff could not take away the Commission’s authority to deal with issues on and emergency or even with new information. Commissioner Dinkins asked what the cost of the bycatch reduction devices would be. Mr. Osburn related it would be $40-50 per device.

Commissioner Henry asked if staff was able to clear up any deficiencies or contradictions as related by various correspondences. Dr. McKinney responded that he felt staff had done just that and that responses to those were in the Commissioners’ packets, and reflects input from the public.

Chairman Bass noted there were eight individuals who were invited to provide stakeholder perspectives. The Chairman called Julius Collins of the Texas Shrimp Association and Richard Moore of PISCES to the microphones. Mr. Collins made his presentation supporting status quo. Chairman Bass called Mr. Jimmy Evan’s to the microphone. Mr. Moore made his presentation indicating his opposition to the proposed regulations. Commissioner Dinkins asked Mr. Moore what he felt the impact of the proposal would be on the shrimp fishery. Mr. Moore responded with his interpretations. Chairman Bass called Mr. Brian Sybert to the microphone. Mr. Evans made his presentation stating he preferred the original proposals but indicating his general support to the current proposals. Chairman Bass called Ms. Thuy Vu to the microphone. Mr. Sybert made his presentation stating he preferred the original proposals but indicating his general support to the current proposals. Chairman Bass called Mr. Jeff Noel to the microphone. Ms. Vu gave her presentation indicating her opposition to the proposed regulations and offered alternate proposals. Chairman Bass asked for Ms. Vu to clarify some of her alternate proposals regarding bay regulations. She responded that the count-size proposals should be incorporated. Chairman Bass called Mr. Kevin Daniels to the microphone. Mr. Noel gave his presentation indicating his support of the proposed regulations. Chairman Bass called Mr. Ray Allen to the microphone. Mr. Daniels of CCA Texas gave his presentation. Mr. Allen of the Corpus Christi Bay National Estuary Program gave his presentation indicating his general support of the proposed regulations.

Chairman Bass asked for a motion to forward further comments to the public hearing portion of the meeting. Commissioner Angelo asked the Chairman for clarification of the Commissions’ responsibilities by moving discussion forward. Chairman Bass provided that clarification. Commissioner Angelo so moved and Commissioner Dinkins seconded the motion. Motion passed unanimously.

AGENDA ITEM NO. 4: ACTION - THREATENED AND ENDANGERED NONGAME SPECIES REGULATIONS

Chairman Bass postponed the presentation until the following day on the agenda of the full Commission. Commissioner Dinkins moved that this item be put on the Full Commission agenda for the next day. Commissioner Ryan seconded. Motion passed unanimously.

IV. ADJOURNMENT: Chairman Bass adjourned the regulations committee.


Committee Agenda Item No. 1
Presenter: Andrew Sansom

Regulations Committee
Briefing
Chairman's Charges
November 2000

(This item will be an oral presentation.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 2
Presenter: Gene McCarty

Regulations Committee
Action
Legislative Regulations Review
November 2000

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Presenters: Gary Graham, Paul Hammerschmidt, Phil Durocher

Regulations Committee
Briefing
Potential Changes to the Statewide Hunting and Fising Proclamation 2001-2002
November 2000

I. DISCUSSION: Responsibility for establishing seasons, bag limits, and means and methods for taking wildlife resources is delegated to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission under Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 61. The potential changes are based upon statutory requirements, including scientific investigation and required findings of fact where applicable. The potential changes would increase recreational opportunity, promote enforcement, and provide for the sound biological management of the wildlife resources of the state.

Attachment - 1

1. Exhibit A - Synopsis of potential changes to the Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation for 2001-2002 .


Committee Agenda Item No. 3
Exhibit A

Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation
Staff Proposals
2001-2002

WILDLIFE

White-tailed deer:

Expand the statewide youth-only weekend for modern arms to include all weekends in October and the three weekends following the second Sunday in January. This change would facilitate youth recruitment through greater flexibility in providing hunts. The proposed season would not affect Level II or Level III MLD properties or preclude hunting by archery.

In Angelina, Chambers, Hardin, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Montgomery, Newton, Orange, Polk, and Tyler counties, allow the harvest of antlerless deer without antlerless permits during the muzzleloader-only season on U.S. Forest Service, Corps of Engineers, Trinity River Authority and Sabine River Authority lands. The change corrects an oversight in the previous regulatory cycle.

Expand the LAMPS program to include Fannin, Hunt, and Rains counties. This proposal will provide greater landowner flexibility and facilitate antlerless harvest where more intensive management requirements under the MLDP are inappropriate or unfeasible.

Increase the bag limit in Brown, Coke, Coleman, Concho, Glasscock, Howard, Irion, Mills, Mitchell, Nolan, Reagan, Runnels, Sterling, and Tom Green counties, from four deer (no more than two bucks) to five deer (no more than two bucks). Biological data indicate that the bag limit can be increased without causing either depletion or waste.

Increase the bag limit in Aransas, Atascosa, Bee, Calhoun, Cameron, Hidalgo, Live Oak, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Starr, and Willacy counties, from four deer (no more than two bucks) to five deer (no more than three bucks). Biological data indicate that the bag limit can be increased without causing either depletion or waste.

In Aransas, Atascosa, Bee, Brooks, Calhoun, Cameron, Dimmit, Duval, Frio, Hidalgo, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kinney (south of U. S. Hwy. 90), Kleberg, La Salle, Live Oak, Maverick, McMullen, Medina (south of U. S. Hwy. 90), Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Starr, Uvalde (south of U. S. Hwy. 90), Webb, Willacy, Zapata, and Zavala counties, open the season on the first Saturday in November rather than the second Saturday in November. This change would provide a more uniform opening date across Texas, and would not result in either depletion or waste.

Allow the use of Antlerless and Spike-buck Deer Control Permits statewide from the Saturday nearest September 30 through the last day of any open season in a given county. This change would increase the time available to landowners and land managers to remove specified numbers of animals and reduce negative habitat impacts of overpopulation.

Eastern Wild Turkey:

Expand the Spring season for Eastern wild turkey into Houston, Rusk, Smith, Upshur, and Wood counties. Addresses maximizing hunter opportunity. Habitat continuity and the time elapsed since stocking operations were completed in or near the affected counties have created a suitable opportunity for the implementation of an open season under the same regulatory scheme as counties currently enjoying an open season

Javelina:

Open a javelina season in Archer County. The change would increase hunter opportunity. Biological data indicate that a season can be opened without causing either depletion or waste.

INLAND FISHERIES

REGULATION SIMPLIFICATION

Lakes Belton (Bell County), Cisco (Eastland County), Greenbelt (Donley County), Oak Creek (Coke County), Stillhouse Hollow (Bell County), White River (Crosby County), Whitney (Bosque and Hill Counties)

Proposal

Current harvest regulations for smallmouth bass consist of 18-inch minimum length limits and a 3-fish daily bag limit. Regulations would be changed to a 14-inch minimum length limit and a 5-fish daily bag limit.

Expected Results

Use of the 18-inch minimum length limit for smallmouth bass has had no impact on populations in these reservoirs. Reinstatement of the statewide 14-inch minimum length limit would not negatively impact existing populations and would simplify regulations.

IMPROVE/MAINTAIN FISHING QUALITY

Lake Sweetwater (Nolan County)

Proposal

Current harvest regulation for largemouth bass consists of a 14-inch minimum length limit and a 5-fish daily bag limit. Regulations would be changed to a 14-18-inch slot limit with a 5-fish daily bag limit.

Expected Results

Lake Sweetwater has demonstrated the potential for production of more and larger bass. Good habitat, high fertility, and excellent prey fish production exist. Reducing the fishing mortality of 14-18 inch largemouth bass should increase quality-sized largemouth bass available to anglers and increase trophy-sized bass.

O. H. Ivie Reservoir(Coleman, Concho, Runnels Counties)

Proposal

Current harvest regulation for largemouth bass consists of an 18-inch minimum length limit and a 5 fish daily bag limit. Regulations would be changed to no minimum length limit for largemouth bass. Of the 5 largemouth bass an angler could harvest, only two could be less than 18 inches.

Expected results:

The 18-inch minimum length limit has resulted in a quality fishery throughout the 1990’s; however, this protection has now resulted in slow bass growth and stockpiling of largemouth bass in the 14 to 16-inch range. Declining water levels are exacerbating these conditions. Allowing anglers to harvest some slow growing largemouth bass below 18 inches should reduce the number of bass in the stockpiled size range and result in increased growth rates.

Pinkston Reservoir (Shelby County)

Proposal

Current harvest regulations for largemouth bass consist of a 14-18 inch slot limit and a 5-fish daily bag limit. Regulations would be changed to a 14-21 inch slot length limit and 5 fish daily bag of which only one fish 21 inches or greater may be harvested per day.

Expected Results

Pinkston Reservoir has trophy bass potential as demonstrated by the former state record bass that was caught there in 1986. Increasing the upper end of the slot limit to 21 inches should increase numbers of trophy-sized bass in the population by providing additional protection to bass 18-21 inches in length. Allowing harvest of bass less than or equal to 14 inches could decrease intraspecific competition and increase growth rates.

REGULATION STANDARDIZATION

Lakes Coffee Mill and Davy Crockett (Fannin County)

Proposal

Regulations would be changed to prohibit the use of trotlines, juglines, and throwlines.

Expected Results

These reservoirs are part of the Caddo National Grasslands. This change would put National Grassland and TPW regulations in concurrence concerning fishing methods. Prohibition of trotlines, juglines, and throwlines would provide some protection from over-harvest of channel catfish.

COASTAL FISHERIES

Compatibility with Federal Rules in the Exclusive Economic Zone

Staff will be reviewing possible rule changes regarding the harvest of various marine finfish species to be compatible with rules implemented in the federal waters of the Exclusive Economic Zone. Staff will evaluate through scoping a potential regulation change to increase the Spanish mackerel bag limit.


Committee Agenda Item No. 4
Presenter: Robin Reichers

Regulations Committee
Action
Petition for Rulemaking
November 2000

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 4.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 5
Presenter: Jerry Cooke

Regulations Committee
Action
Petition for Rulemaking
Quail Season Opening Day
November 2000

I. DISCUSSION: The department has received a petition requesting that the Commission modify the Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation. The petitioner requests that the opening date of quail season be set one week earlier than the earliest opening date for the white-tailed deer season, which currently is the first Saturday in November. The petitioner states that because he hunts quail in South Texas, the current regulation (which opens the quail season the Saturday closest to November 1, or November 4 of this year) forces him to choose between hunting quail in South Texas or deer in North Texas on opening day (also November 4 of this year).

II. RECOMMENDATION: Staff has reviewed the petition and finds that no biological implications, positive or negative, would result from implementing the petitioner's request. Staff recommends that the item be included in the rulemaking process for the 2001-2002 Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation.

Attachment - 1

1. Exhibit A - Petition for Rulemaking (Available upon request.)


Committee Agenda Item No. 6
Presenter: Jerry Cooke

Regulations Committee
Action
Managed Lands Deer Permits
November 2000

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


Committee Agenda Item No. 7
Presenter: Robert Sweeney

Regulations Committee
Action
Statewide Aquatic Vegetation Management Rules
November 2000

(This is Public Hearing Agenda Item No. 5 .)


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