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Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, steve.lightfoot@tpwd.texas.gov [SL]

TPWD Website: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us

TPWD News Release — Aug. 30, 2004

TPWD To Retain Saltwater Stamp Surcharge

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas saltwater anglers will continue to help fund a program designed to reduce commercial fishing effort in the bays through a $3 surcharge on the Saltwater Sportfishing Stamp fee, following action taken by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Commission.

The commission adopted in 2000 a $3 increase to the Saltwater Sportfishing Stamp fee (from $7 to $10), which was scheduled to expire in 2005. Agency projections suggested that without continued funding from the surcharge beyond 2005, the objectives of the buyback program cannot be achieved in a timely manner.

"Our goal with the limited entry program is to assure a sustainable shrimp industry that also minimizes adverse impacts on other commercial and recreational fisheries," said Larry McKinney, Ph.D., TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division d\irector. All three fisheries — shrimp, crab and finfish — are currently being over-fished, over-capitalized (too many vessels), fully exploited, or a combination of the three. "We want to stabilize the fishery socially, economically and biologically. Our least-disruptive management tool available has been the license buyback program, which has been successful thanks to the contributions from the recreational anglers of Texas."

The revenue generated through this surcharge has helped TPWD retire 36 percent of the state’s inshore commercial shrimping licenses as well as some commercial finfish and crab fishermen licenses. To date the shrimp license buyback program has purchased more than 1,150 licenses and has spent more than $7 million. During the latest round of buybacks, TPWD purchased 96 licenses in total for a total cost of $736,000.

"With the surcharge, we will have the funding needed to buy back about 800 additional licenses over the next five years," said Robin Riechers, TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division Science and Policy Director. "Without it, we’re probably looking at retiring only about 80 licenses. This funding is critical for the continued success of our program."

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