Presenter: Larry McKinney

Commission Agenda Item No. 3
Coastal Fisheries Update
April 2005

I. Executive Summary: Staff will provide an update on Coastal Fisheries Issues. The outlook for coastal fisheries this year continues the positive trends seen in the last several years. While fishing pressure continues to increase as seen in license sales and overall fishing pressure, our fish stocks remain healthy.

The amount of time fishermen spend plying Texas coastal waters is staggering. In the 2003-04 seasons, according to TPWD creel surveys, anglers spent 5.27 million hours fishing on the Texas coast.

Not only are there more anglers but also they are catching more fish. Landings of the two most popular game fish, spotted seatrout and red drum, increased coastwide in 2003-04 by 11 percent and 31 percent, respectively. Galveston Bay (24 percent) and the Lower Laguna Madre (33 percent) showed the greatest increases while Aransas and Corpus Christi Bays declined slightly. However, Aransas Bay saw a spectacular increase in red drum landings with an increase of 76 percent. Other bays showed significant increases as well: Upper Laguna Madre (57 percent), Lower Laguna Madre (40 percent) and San Antonio Bay (45 percent). Only Galveston Bay showed a decrease in red drum landings. Texas anglers have become more efficient as well. Catch rates (the number of fish caught per hour of effort) for all species combined increased by four percent from 0.27 fish per hour in 2002-03 to 0.28 fish per hour in 2003-04. When the statistics for game fish are examined separately, spotted seatrout saw an increase in catch rate of nine percent and red drum a spectacular increase of 33 percent.

Department habitat conservation programs to protect and restore the diversity of marine and estuarine habitats important to fisheries species has seen continued success. Artificial reef programs to enhance offshore fishing and recreational opportunities are poised to expand dramatically to the benefit of our constituents.

The briefing will provide examples of conservation activities of special note that will be underway over the next year. A preview of the upcoming fishing season for major bay systems and species, based on this year's monitoring efforts, will also be presented.