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Commission Agenda Item No. 4
Presenter: Mark Lingo

Action
Statewide Shrimp Fishery Proclamation
March 26, 2015

I.             Executive Summary:  This item seeks adoption of proposed amendments to the Statewide Shrimp Fishery Proclamation.

The amendments presented for adoption would:

II.          Discussion: Responsibility for regulating the catching, possession, purchase, and sale of shrimp is delegated to the commission under Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 77.

At the August 2014 meeting of the Commission, members of the shrimping community asked the Commission to investigate the possibility of liberalizing shrimping regulations, requesting a number of changes. In response, the department held a total of seven scoping meetings at points along the Texas coast in order to directly communicate with the shrimping community and listen to their concerns and suggestions. The two most frequently heard suggestions were to extend shrimping hours and increase bag limits in inside waters. Staff concluded that these changes could be implemented without posing risk to the shrimp fishery or bycatch species. At the Work Session meeting on January 21, 2015, staff was authorized to publish the proposed rules in the Texas Register for public comment.  The proposed rules appeared in the February 20, 2015 issue of the Texas Register (40 TexReg 798).  A summary of public comment on the proposed rules will be presented at the time of the meeting.

III.       RECOMMENDATION:  Staff recommends that the Commission adopt the proposed motion:

“The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts §§58.162-58.165, concerning the Statewide Shrimp Fishery Proclamation, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the February 20, 2015 issue of the Texas Register (40 TexReg 798).”

Attachments – 1

  1. Exhibit A – Published Amendments to the Statewide Shrimp Fishery Proclamation

Commission Agenda Item No. 4
Exhibit A

STATEWIDE SHRIMP FISHERY PROCLAMATION
PROPOSAL PREAMBLE

1. Introduction.
         The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (department) proposes an amendment to §58.162-58.165, concerning the Statewide Shrimp Fishery Proclamation. The proposed amendments would extend the lawful shrimping hours for commercial (bay and bait) and recreational shrimping in inside waters during the Spring season and increase the bag limit for bay shrimping during the Spring season.

         Under current rule, the lawful shrimping hours for recreational and commercial shrimping during the Spring season in inside waters are from 30 minutes before sunrise until 2 p.m., and the daily bag limit is 200 lbs. for bait shrimping and 600 lbs. for bay shrimping. The proposed amendments would extend the lawful shrimping hours for all shrimping until 30 minutes after sunset and increase the daily bag limit for bay shrimpers to 800 lbs. of shrimp per day.

         Shrimp are a critical part of healthy coastal ecosystems in Texas. They are a food source for game fish that support an economically significant sport fishery and are the basis for an important commercial fishery. In 1985 the Texas Legislature delegated to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (Commission) the authority to manage the shrimp fishery in Texas, directing the department to achieve optimum yield, defined as the amount of shrimp that the fishery will produce on a continuing basis to achieve the maximum economic benefits as modified by relevant social or ecological factors. The 1989 Shrimp Fisheries Management Plan documented the fact that increased fishing effort was resulting in the harvest of more and more shrimp at smaller and smaller sizes, creating legitimate concern for the long-term sustainability of shrimp stocks. To begin addressing the problem, the department worked with the regulated community and the 74th Texas Legislature to establish a limited entry and license buyback program for the commercial bay and bait shrimp fishery, which was established in 1995. Since then, the voluntary license buyback program has retired approximately 75% of the original licenses and has been a crucial component in protecting the fishery from overharvest.

         In 2000, the Commission adopted rules to address the documented growth overfishing of shrimp stocks. Growth overfishing occurs when the total yield or mean size decreases with increasing effort; in other words, shrimp were being caught before they could grow to a sufficiently large size. The resulting reduction in the number of adult shrimp entering the spawning group in the Gulf of Mexico was a threat to the sustainability of the shrimp fishery, and failure to reverse those trends would have resulted in serious biological problems in both the commercial shrimp industry and in the recreational finfish and tourism industries. The rules adopted in 2000 (in concert with the license buyback program) have been proven effective in reversing the growth overfishing of shrimp stocks.

         At the August 2014 meeting of the Commission, members of the shrimping community asked the Commission to investigate the possibility of liberalizing shrimping regulations, requesting a number of changes. In response, the department held a total of seven scoping meetings at points along the Texas coast in order to directly communicate with the shrimping community and listen to their concerns and suggestions. The two most frequently heard suggestions were to extend shrimping hours and increase bag limits in inside waters. Department staff concurs that these changes can be implemented without posing risk to the shrimp fishery or bycatch species. Department data indicate that for Spring season landings, 73% of bay shrimpers land 200 lbs. of shrimp or less per day, and 80% of the bait shrimp landings are 100 lbs. or less. Based on these data, staff concludes that the extension of lawful shrimping hours and the increase in the daily bag limit will not result in harvest sufficient to negatively impact shrimp stocks or the gulf migration and should not adversely affect bycatch species.

         Members of the regulated community also made suggestions concerning the Fall season length, gear restrictions, and count sizes (the size of shrimp that legally may be retained). The department intends to continue dialogue and engagement with the regulated community to investigate the feasibility of additional regulatory changes regarding these and other issues in the future.

2. Fiscal Note.

         Lance Robinson, Deputy Director of the Coastal Fisheries Division, has determined that for each of the first five years that the rules as proposed are in effect, there will be no fiscal implications to state or local governments as a result of enforcing or administering the proposed rules.

3. Public Benefit/Cost Note.

         Mr. Robinson also has determined that for each of the first five years the rules as proposed are in effect:
         (A) The public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcing or administering the rules as proposed will be the effective management of a public resource to provide maximum economic benefits consistent with sound ecological management principles.

         (B) Under the provisions of Government Code, Chapter 2006, a state agency must prepare an economic impact statement and a regulatory flexibility analysis for a rule that may have an adverse economic effect on small businesses and micro-businesses. As required by Government Code, §2006.002(g), the Office of the Attorney General has prepared guidelines to assist state agencies in determining a proposed rule’s potential adverse economic impact on small businesses. Those guidelines state that an agency need only consider a proposed rule’s “direct adverse economic impacts” to small businesses and micro-businesses to determine if any further analysis is required. For that purpose, commission considers “direct economic impact” to mean a requirement that would directly impose recordkeeping or reporting requirements; impose taxes or fees; result in lost sales or profits; adversely affect market competition; or require the purchase or modification of equipment or services.

         The department has determined that there will be no adverse economic effects on small businesses, microbusinesses, or persons required to comply with the rules as proposed, and that, if anything, any economic effects of the rules should be positive. Accordingly, the department has not prepared a regulatory flexibility analysis under Government Code, Chapter 2006.

         (C) The department has not drafted a local employment impact statement under the Administrative Procedures Act, §2001.022, as the agency has determined that the rules as proposed will not impact local economies.

         (D) The department has determined that Government Code, §2001.0225 (Regulatory Analysis of Major Environmental Rules), does not apply to the proposed rules.

         (E) The department has determined that there will not be a taking of private real property, as defined by Government Code, Chapter 2007, as a result of the proposed rules.

4. Request for Public Comment.

         Comments on the proposed rules may be submitted to http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/feedback/public_comment/ or Robert Macdonald, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas, 78744; (512) 389-4775 (e-mail: robert.macdonald@tpwd.texas.gov).

5. Statutory Authority.

         The amendments are proposed under Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 77, which provides the Commission with authority to regulate the catching, possession, purchase, and sale of shrimp.

         The amendments affect Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 77.

6. Text.

         §58.162. Shrimping in Inside Waters — General Rules.

                 (a) It is unlawful:

                         (1) during the period April 1 through August 14, to take or attempt to take shrimp from the inside water except between the hours of 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset[2:00 p.m.];

                         (2) – (8) (No change.)

                 (b) Dual licensed boats. During the period May 15 through July 15, it is unlawful for the operator of a boat licensed both as a commercial bay shrimp boat and a commercial bait shrimp boat to:

                         (1) take more than 800[600] pounds of shrimp per boat per calendar day in major bays;

                         (2) possess or have on board a boat in the inside water or unload or attempt to unload at any point in this state more than 800[600] pounds of shrimp; or

                         (3) (No change.)

         §58.163. Shrimping in Inside Waters — Commercial Bay Shrimping.

                 (a) (No change.)

                 (b) Spring open season.

                         (1) (No change.)

                         (2) Legal shrimping hours: 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset[2:00 p.m.].

                         (3) Bag and possession limits: No more than 800[600] pounds of whole shrimp per day may be taken or possessed on board.

                         (4) – (5) (No change.)

                 (c) (No change.)

         §58.164. Shrimping Inside Waters — Commercial Bait Shrimping.

                 (a) (No change.)

                 (b) Commercial bait-shrimp season.

                         (1) (No change.)

                         (2) Legal shrimping hours.

                                  (A) (No change.)

                                  (B) From April 1 through August 14 legal shrimping hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset[2:00 p.m.].

                                  (C) (No change.)

                 (c) – (e) (No change.)

         §58.165. Non-commercial (Recreational) Shrimping.

                 (a) – (b) (No change.)

                 (c) Shrimping for personal use — Inside waters.

                         (1) (No change.)

                         (2) Spring open season.

                                  (A) (No change.)

                                  (B) Legal shrimping hours: 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset[2:00 p.m.].

                                  (C) – (D) (No change.)

                         (3) (No change.)

                 (d) Shrimping for bait — Inside waters.

                         (1) – (2) (No change.)

                         (3) Legal shrimping hours.

                                  (A) (No change.)

                                  (B) From April 1 through August 14 legal shrimping hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset[2:00 p.m.].

                         (4) – (5) (No change.)

         This agency hereby certifies that the proposal has been reviewed by legal counsel and found to be within the agency’s authority to adopt.

         Issued in Austin, Texas, on