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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2009-09-17                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than five years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
Sept. 17, 2009
Anglers Urged to Report Fish Sightings via Tarpon Observation Network
AUSTIN, Texas -- As we approach the peak of fishing season for one of the most sought-after saltwater species in Texas waters, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is encouraging anglers to report when and where tarpon have been spotted or caught.
Anglers can report sightings or catches using the online Tarpon Observation Network, maintained by the TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division. Angler reports will help biologists learn more about the silver king's life cycle, habitat use and migration patterns.
Tarpon are both one of the most desirable and difficult to catch game fish, and the Texas gulf coast has long been a prime place to find them -- in fact, from 1896 to 1911, Port Aransas was known as Tarpon, named for the fish that were so abundant there. They can grow to more than 300 pounds and more than 7  feet in length. Known as vigorous fighters, it is estimated that seven of every eight tarpon who are hooked manage to escape. In 1937, President Franklin Roosevelt was drawn to Port Aransas to try his hand at tarpon fishing -- he managed to land an 80-pounder.
However, by the 1960s, overfishing and habitat destruction had taken their toll and the tarpon population in the Gulf began to decline. The goal of the Tarpon Observation Network is to use volunteer observations as a part of the effort by TPWD to help manage and conserve the Gulf's tarpon population. So far, more than 300 observations representing roughly 400 tarpon have been registered into the application, primarily from TPWD records and observant anglers.
To report a Tarpon sighting, go to the Tarpon Observation Network Web site. For more information about the program, e-mail tarpon@tpwd.texas.gov.
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On the Net:
http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/tarpon
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[ Note: This item is more than five years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Bill Rodney, (281) 534-0127, bill.rodney@tpwd.texas.gov; or Jennie Rohrer, (281) 534-0103, jennie.rohrer@tpwd.texas.gov; Cell Phone: 832-226-9834 ]
Sept. 17, 2009
Galveston Bay Oyster Reef Restoration Gets Underway
HOUSTON -- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has begun construction on two oyster reef restoration projects in Galveston Bay funded by multi-million dollar federal grants to restore hurricane damage. One project is in East Galveston Bay, an area hit hard by Hurricane Ike. The other project is located along the north facing shoreline of Eagle Point near the community of San Leon.
Oysters feed by filtering tiny plants known as phytoplankton from the water. This filter feeding also removes silt and contaminants from the water, making oysters nature's bio-filters. Oyster reefs also provide habitat for numerous bottom dwelling fish and invertebrates which are in turn food for larger game fish. Scientists refer to these various functions of oyster reefs, including providing product for the commercial fishing industry, as "ecosystem services."
The East Bay oyster restoration project aims to restore 20 acres of oyster habitat for the purpose of helping the struggling oyster industry. East Bay lost approximately 80% of its oyster habitat due to sedimentation caused by Hurricane Ike. The area where the reefs are being built was once covered by extensive natural oyster reefs. These reefs were lost due to sedimentation caused by oyster shell mining activities during the 1960's and from Hurricane Ike one year ago. TPWD plans to deposit a layer of reef building materials (called "cultch") onto the area. Once in place, the cultch will attract planktonic oyster larvae. These larvae will settle onto the cultch and grow into adult oysters. The restoration site is included within the area of East Bay that will be closed for two years to commercial oyster harvest from public reefs to give oyster resources in the area time to recover. After 2 years, all public oyster reefs will be reopened to commercial oyster fishing.
The other oyster restoration project, located along Galveston Bay's western shore, will restore 2 acres of oyster reef habitat in 2009. These 2 acres will be divided up into several smaller patches of reef habitat. The purpose of this project is to improve recreational fishing in the area and to provide other ecosystem services attributed to oyster reefs. The reefs will be located near privately owned piers and in waters closed to commercial oyster fishing due to high bacteria counts. The project has enlisted local pier owners to grow baby oysters by hanging mesh bags filled with oyster shells from their piers, a process known as "oyster gardening". Gardened oysters will be deposited on top of the reefs after construction is completed in order to quickly establish an oyster population.
These projects will provide benefits to the ecosystem and to both the recreational and commercial fisheries in Galveston bay. TPWD has partnered with the Galveston Bay Foundation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on this project and will continue to look for opportunities to continue this type of work in the future.
For more information or to schedule a news interview, call Bill Rodney, (281) 534-0127, bill.rodney@tpwd.texas.gov, or Jennie Rohrer, (281) 534-0103, jennie.rohrer@tpwd.texas.gov.
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