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Scoping Meetings Set for Proposed Saltwater Fishing Regulation Changes
AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Coastal Fisheries division will host five scoping meetings the first and second weeks of January to discuss proposed changes to saltwater fishing regulations in 2007.
The annual regulatory review process begins each fall after resource assessments by biologists and review of issues regarding law enforcement activities with game wardens, as well as independent recommendations received from various groups. During the scoping portion of the process, TPWD gathers public input and weighs the biological implications of each issue before presenting the commission with a set of proposed regulation changes in January.
Additional discourse is sought during special public meetings in the spring, and the commission at its April 2007 meeting determines the final regulation changes.
Meetings are slated for:
- Jan. 3 — Port Isabel Community Center, 213 Yturria, Port Isabel
- Jan. 4 — Port Mansfield Chamber Pavilion, 101 East Port Drive, Port Mansfield
- Jan. 4 — Dickinson Marine Lab, 1502 FM 517, Dickinson
- Jan. 9 — Lion's Field Adult & Senior Citizens Center, 2809 Broadway, San Antonio
- Jan. 10 — TAMU-CC, Natural Resources Center Room 1003, 6300 Ocean Drive, Corpus Christi
Times for all meetings are 7-9 p.m.
The most dramatic change being discussed addresses coastal fisheries biologists’ concerns about declining numbers of legal-sized spotted seatrout in the Lower Laguna Madre bay ecosystem compared to historic levels. Although officials point out the seatrout populations in this bay system are on par with numbers statewide, they believe proactive steps will help ensure and enhance the future health of this world class fishery.
Options under consideration for proposed rule changes in January include changes to spotted seatrout bag and size limits in the Lower Laguna Madre.
Other changes under consideration for 2007 include:
- Increasing the minimum length limit on sheepshead to provide sufficient protection for this popular fish to reach sexual maturity and thereby ensure sustainable productivity.
- Provide protection for diamondback terrapins by banning harvest. Biologists are concerned about the possibility of a growing commercial market for the species.
- Increase the minimum length limit for retention of a tarpon to 90 inches.
- Expand current rules prohibiting use of airboats to rally or harass schools of fish to include all boats.
Public comment about these issues and others of interest may be made to TPWD, Regulatory Proposals Public Comment, 4200 Smith School Road, 78744, by phoning 800-792-1112 or by visiting the Web (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/).
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