Presenter: Earl Chilton

Commission Agenda Item No. 20
Action
Harmful and Potentially Harmful Fish, Shellfish, and Aquatic Plants
Special Provisions - Water Spinach
August 27, 2009

I. Executive Summary: This item seeks adoption of proposed rules to regulate the cultivation, possession, transportation, and sale of water spinach.

II. Discussion: Under Parks and Wildlife Code, §66.007, no person may import, possess, sell, or place into water of this state exotic harmful or potentially harmful fish, shellfish, or aquatic plants except as authorized by rule or permit issued by the department. Possession of water spinach was prohibited in Texas until 2005, when the department discovered that individuals in the Houston area had been growing and selling it undetected for over two decades. The department initiated surveys in an effort to determine if water spinach was growing in the wild in the Houston area and concluded that it was not. On that basis, the department in 2006 allowed the possession of water spinach for personal consumption while it developed a risk analysis to determine the potential environmental hazards associated with allowing culture and sale of water spinach.

The department's risk analysis was completed earlier this year and concluded that water spinach is a low-risk species that can be cultured and sold with little potential for environmental hazard in Texas, provided it is strictly regulated. The proposed rules would implement a regulatory regime to require persons who grow water spinach for any purpose to acquire an exotic species permit issued by the department (in addition to any other permits required by other governmental entities). The proposed rules would establish facilities standards, require facility inspections, impose recordkeeping and reporting requirements, and prescribe processing and packaging standards, including standards for transportation.

At the May 2009 meeting of the Regulations Committee, staff received permission to publish proposed rules to regulate the cultivation, possession, transportation, and sale of water spinach. The proposed rules were published in the July 24, 2009 issue of the Texas Register (34 TexReg 4838).

III. Recommendation: The staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion:

"The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts the repeal of §57.136, an amendment to §57.113, and new §§57.136 and 57.137, concerning the cultivation, possession, and sale of water spinach, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the July 24, 2009, issue of the Texas Register (34 TexReg 4838)."

Attachments - 1

  1. Exhibit A - Proposed Rules

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