Redfish Bay State Scientific Area

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Redfish Bay Regulation

"Within the Redfish Bay State Scientific Area, no person shall cause or allow any rooted seagrass plant to be uprooted or dug out from the bay bottom by a submerged propeller, except as may be permitted by a coastal lease issued by the Texas General Land Office or otherwise permitted under state law."

Redfish Bay - Background

A new regulation went into effect May 1, 2006 affecting all boaters who venture into the Redfish Bay State Scientific Area (RBSSA). The RBSSA is a component of both the Aransas and Corpus Christi ecosystems and is bounded by the communities of Rockport, Aransas Pass, Port Aransas and Ingleside. The area has about 50 square miles (32,000 acres) of prime fishing habitat, including 14,000 acres of submerged seagrass beds, dominated by turtle grass (Thalassia testudinum) and shoal grass (Halodule beaudettei). Redfish Bay contains the northernmost extensive stands of seagrass on the Texas coast and they are well worth the effort to protect them.

redfish tailing in seagrass beds

Redfish tailing in submerged seagrass beds

In June, 2000, Redfish Bay was designated a scientific area by TPWC for the purposes of protecting and studying the native seagrasses. In three shallow and popular fishing areas, voluntary no-prop zones were marked with posts and signs visible to boaters in the area from 2000 through 2005. However, these zones were largely ineffective in reducing seagrass damage.

As a result, in the fall of 2005 TPWC took the more conservative approach by making it illegal to destroy any of the five species of seagrasses found throughout RBSSA.

This action didn't include any closed areas, but boaters are held responsible if they damage seagrasses with their propellers. Most importantly, the enactment of the seagrass protection regulation places seagrass conservation responsibility squarely on boat operators.

Boaters can use these rules of thumb to boat responsibly in these areas:

Even though boater access is allowed throughout the RBSSA, boaters can avoid damaging seagrass by simply avoiding shallow areas. diagram showing propellers relationship to seagrass

If the vessel's wake is muddy, the propeller may be cutting into the bay bottom and causing damage. It is the boater's responsibility to know the depth of the water they are running in and to avoid areas too shallow for their vessel.

When these shallow waters are encountered, you should LIFT your motor and

boat drifting through shallow water

DRIFT -- This boat is drifting through seagrass beds

boat being poled through shallow water

POLE -- This boat is being poled through shallow water

boat with trolling motor

or TROLL -- Boat with a trolling motor

REMEMBER: Run TO the flats, NOT THROUGH the flats.

  • For additional information about Redfish Bay State Scientific Area or the new Seagrass protection regulations, contact Seagrass Team