Presenters: Ken Kurzawski
Robin Riechers
Clayton Wolf

Commission Agenda Item No. 5
Action
2009-2010 Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation
Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes
March 26, 2009

I. Executive Summary: This item presents the proposed 2009-2010 Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation for adoption. The proposed amendments and new rules are as follows:

Inland Fisheries

Blue Catfish - Lake Lewisville (Denton County), Lake Richland Chambers (Navarro and Freestone Counties), and Lake Waco (McLennan County)

Harvest regulations for blue catfish on these reservoirs currently consist of the statewide limits (12-inch minimum length limit and 25 fish daily bag limit). Proposed changes would consist of a 25-fish daily bag limit with a 30- to 45-inch slot length limit, and harvest of only one blue catfish over 45 inches would be allowed. No harvest of blue catfish between 30 and 45 inches would be allowed.

Largemouth Bass - Lake Ray Roberts (Cooke, Denton, and Grayson Counties)

Harvest regulations for largemouth bass are currently a 14- to 24-inch slot length limit and a five fish daily bag (only one bass 24 inches or greater may be retained each day). Proposed changes would consist of the statewide limits for largemouth bass (14-inch minimum length limit and five fish daily bag limit).

Alligator Gar - Statewide

Alligator gar populations are believed to be declining throughout much of their historical range, which includes the Mississippi River system, as well as coastal rivers of the Gulf of Mexico from Florida through Texas to northern Mexico. The proposed amendment would limit anglers to one alligator gar per day.

Lake Texoma

Recent meetings between fisheries and law enforcement staff from TPWD and Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation resulted in two proposed changes to fishing regulations on Lake Texoma. The proposals are part of an ongoing effort to standardize regulations on the reservoir where management is shared by both states.

Coastal Fisheries

Flounder

Coastal Fisheries believes that long-term downward trends in the fishery warrant consideration of regulations intended to reverse the downward trend in abundance. The proposed amendment would reduce the recreational daily bag limit from 10 fish to five fish, reduce the commercial daily bag limit from 60 fish to 30 fish, and close Texas waters for the take of flounder during the month of November.

Federal Consistency

The proposed amendments would alter bag and size limits for certain species that are managed jointly with the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.

Sharks

The proposed amendment would change the minimum length limit for lawful species from 24 inches total length (TL) to 64 inches TL, except for Atlantic sharpnose, Blacktip, and Bonnethead sharks, which would remain at the current 24-inch minimum length limit. For lawful shark species, the bag limit would remain one fish per person per day, with a two-fish possession limit. In addition, a prohibited list (zero bag limit) will be established for the following shark species:

Atlantic angel
Squatina dumerili
Basking
Cetorhinus maximus
Bigeye sand tiger
Odontaspis noronhai
Bigeye sixgill
Hexanchus vitulus
Bigeye thresher
Alopias superciliosus
Bignose
Carcharhinus altimus
Caribbean reef
Carcharhinus perezi
Caribbean sharpnose
Rhizoprionodon porosus
Dusky
Carcharhinus obscurus
Galapagos
Carcharhinus galapagensis
Longfin mako
Isurus paucus
Narrowtooth
Carcharhinus brachyurus
Night
Carcharhinus signatus
Sandbar
Carcharhinus plumbeus
Sand tiger
Odontaspis taurus
Sevengill
Heptranchias perlo
Silky
Carcharhinus falciformis
Sixgill
Hexanchus griseus
Smalltail
Carcharhinus porosus
Whale
Rhincodon typus
White
Carcharodon carcharias
Other Species

The proposed amendments also address other species determined to be in an overfished condition or are undergoing overfishing. The proposed changes include: increasing the minimum size limit for greater amberjack from 32 inches to 34 inches TL and establishing minimum size limits of 14 inches for gray triggerfish and 22 inches for gag grouper. The bag limit for gray triggerfish would be 20 per person and for gag grouper it would be set at two per person with a possession limit of twice the daily bag limit.

Paddle Craft Licensing

The proposed amendment would allow paddle craft operators to receive an all-water fishing guide license by establishing alternative requirements to the current United States Coast Guard (USCG) Operator of an Uninspected Passenger Vessel license. The current USCG license requirements do not address the unique safety issues associated with paddle craft and also may be restricting the licensing of paddle craft guides due to the "sea time" requirement. The new requirements would allow issuance of a license upon certification or proof of completion of a TPWD boater safety course, CPR/First Aid training, and completion of the American Canoe Association "Level II Essentials of Kayak Touring" and "Coastal Kayak Trip Leading" courses or the British Canoe Union "Three Star Sea Kayak" and "Four Star Leader Sea Kayak" courses.

Wildlife

White-tailed Deer

The proposed amendments would make the following changes to white-tailed deer regulations:

Mule Deer

The proposed amendment would implement a nine-day open general season in Parmer County.

Lesser Prairie Chicken

The proposed amendment would suspend the two-day season on lesser prairie chicken until population recovery supports resumption. This was a recommendation of the Upland Game Bird Council, supported by staff.

Miscellaneous

The proposed amendments would make the following changes:

II. 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. The potential changes to the Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation are based upon statutory requirements, Commission policy, and suggestions from the regulated community, including scientific investigation and required findings of fact where applicable. The changes are intended to increase recreational opportunity, decrease regulatory complexity where possible, promote enforcement, and provide for the sound biological management of the wildlife resources of the state. The Regulations Committee at its January, 2009 meeting authorized staff to publish the proposed 2009-2010 Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation in the Texas Register for public comment. The proposed rules appeared in the February 20, 2009 issue of the Texas Register (34 TexReg 1202). A summary of public comment on the proposed rules will be presented at the time of the hearing.

III. Recommendation: Staff recommends that the commission adopt the proposed motion:

"The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts the repeal of §65.42, amendments to §§65.3, 65.10, 65.56, 65.64, 65.72, and 65.73, and new §65.42, concerning the Statewide Hunting and Fishing Proclamation, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the February 20, 2009 issue of the Texas Register (34 TexReg 1202)."

Attachment - 1

  1. Exhibit A - Proposed Rules

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