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TPWD Sets Public Meetings on Expanded Seagrass Protection and Freeze Events
AUSTIN — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has scheduled five scoping meetings this winter, starting Nov. 30, about two possible regulation changes for 2012. The scoping items include consideration of a new state scientific area to protect seagrass in the Laguna Madre near the John F. Kennedy Memorial Causeway in Nueces County, and a clarification of emergency rules to protect fish during coastal freezes.
Dates and locations for the meetings are listed below. All meetings will begin at 7pm. Also, a Public Comment link will be placed on the TPWD website homepage to allow comments to be submitted electronically.
The two coastal items are part of possible statewide hunting and fishing regulation changes for 2012. After receiving input regarding these two issues, they may move to an official proposal after the January commission meeting, after which there will be more statewide meetings and comment opportunities before final rules are approved by the TPW Commission in March.
The JFK causeway proposal would create a new 15,500-acre protected area similar to the Redfish Bay State Scientific Area. This site was chosen because it has extensive shallow seagrass flats that would benefit from protection, plus heavy boat traffic with many access points. Also, the site offers beneficial “overlap” from the nearby Redfish Bay area, only 10 miles away. The region benefits from previous outreach and conservation efforts, and existing partners dedicating to helping the cause. Because of this, many boaters and anglers in the region are already familiar with rules and boating practices to protect seagrass.
Seagrass protection in the JFK causeway area would be essentially the same as in the Redfish Bay State Scientific Area. Boaters could motor throughout the area under power as long as they do not uproot seagrass with boat propellers.
TPWD is also proposing to clarify rules to protect fish during prolonged freezing weather on the Texas coast. For example, on Feb. 2, the agency issued a temporary closure to saltwater fishing at specified areas or thermal refuges along the Texas coast. Texas has about two million acres of bays and estuaries susceptible to freeze. There were three major freezes during the 1980s, including one in 1989 when the temperature at Brownsville dropped to 16 degrees and an estimated 11 million fish were killed.
The existing rule says no one can fish with a hook and line, pole and line, or throwline in an affected area during a freeze closure. The proposed rule change for 2012 makes clear that no one may take or attempt to take any aquatic life by any means in an affected area during a freeze.
Public Scoping Meetings Dates and Locations
- Nov. 30, Dickinson Marine Lab — 1502 FM 517 East, Dickinson, Texas 77539
- Dec. 1, Bass Pro Shops – 17907 IH-10 West San Antonio, TX 78257
- Dec. 5, Natural Resources Center, Room 1003 – Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, 6300 Ocean Drive Corpus Christi, TX 78412
- Dec.13, Holiday Inn North Padre Island – 15202 Windward Drive, Corpus Christi, TX 78418
- Dec. 14, Port Isabel Community Center – 213 Yturria, Port Isabel, TX 78578
- Dec. 15, TPWD Headquarters, Commission Hearing Room, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744
See an earlier news release detailing the two possible regulation changes online.
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