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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 — Dec. 20, 2012

TPWD Seeks Input on Possible Coastal Fisheries Regulation Changes

AUSTIN — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has scheduled three public scoping meetings in January to gather input about possible regulation changes for 2013-14. The scoping items include incorporation of a rule regarding recreational possession limit, clarification of fish harassment rules, bonus red drum tag requirement changes and new possession rules in state waters for aquatic resources in excess of federal limits.

All meetings will begin at 7 p.m. and are set for:

During the regulation restructuring process where fishing and hunting regulations were separated into their own chapters, language regarding the definition of recreational possession limit was not carried forward into the Statewide Recreational and Commercial Fishing Proclamations chapter. Though the definition currently is enforceable from the Statewide Hunting Proclamation, this proposal will incorporate  the definition into the Statewide Recreational and Commercial Fishing Proclamation making it clearer.  The language to be incorporated reads:

The possession limit shall not apply after the wildlife resource has reached the possessor’s permanent residence and is finally processed.

TPWD is also looking to clarify language in the regulations regarding fish harassment, which currently states that it is unlawful for any person to use any vessel to harass fish. In an attempt to clarify this definition to make it clearer, the department proposes the following language:

It is unlawful to use any vessel to harry, herd, or drive fish including but not limited to operating any vessel in a repeated circular course, for the purpose of or resulting in the artificial concentration of fish for the purpose of taking or attempting to take fish.

The department is also considering removing the prohibition regarding simultaneous possession of the red drum tag and bonus red drum tag. Currently anglers must obtain these two tags at separate times. In an effort to make it easier for those anglers who wish to harvest more than one oversized red drum (>28 inches), the department proposes eliminating this prohibition. As TPWD currently only issues about 7,000 bonus red drum tags annually, and oversized red drum makes up only 3 percent of the total harvest, the department expects no negative impact to the population. Anglers would still only be issued one bonus red drum tag annually.

TPWD is also scoping a change making it a state violation for possession in state waters of aquatic resources taken in violation of federal regulations in the Exclusive Economic Zone. Differences currently exist between state and federal regulations. TPWD has maintained an annual agreement with the Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration through which TPWD agrees to enforce federal regulations in state waters. The ability to enforce federal regulations will help prevent depletion and waste of aquatic resources.

Public input on these scoping items can also be submitted electronically at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/feedback/public_comment/scoping/ by email to Jeremy Leitz at jeremy.leitz@tpwd.texas.gov, or in writing to Jeremy Leitz, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744.

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