WITHDRAWN Commission Meeting Agenda Item No. 8
Presenters: Sergeant Santana Torres
Sergeant Arnold Pinales

Resource Inspections at Point of Entries with United States and Mexico
November 3, 2022

I.      Executive Summary: Law Enforcement Division staff will brief the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (Commission) on the Ports of Entry (POE) Enforcement efforts that took place in Region 8 (Rio Grande Valley) and Region 5 (Laredo) during Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. The briefing will include a summary of the violations encountered, the latest resource importation trends, and an outlook of future enforcement efforts.

II.     Discussion: The Law Enforcement Division, as part of an agreement with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), conducts strategically planned inspections at POE along the Texas/Mexico border that are focused on deterring illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities that violate both national and international fishing regulations. IUU fishing activities undermine conservation efforts and hinder efforts to achieve long-term fisheries sustainability. Unfortunately, IUU fishing activities tend to target vulnerable resources (i.e., red snapper, oysters) that are subject to strict management controls, thereby negatively impacting efforts to rebuild healthy stock levels and threatening marine biodiversity and food security.

During FY 2022, Texas Game Wardens conducted 190 inspections focused on IUU interdiction at POE in the Rio Grande Valley and Laredo areas. During these patrols, Texas Game Wardens intercepted numerous illegal aquatic and wildlife resources without proper documentation. Additionally, Texas Game Wardens identified an illegal oyster importation trend. These illegal imports pose a significant health risk to local communities due to the unregulated harvest and unknown sanitary conditions of these resources. These illegal imports also pose a significant threat to the Texas oyster fishing industry, as many of these illegally imported oysters are commercially sold to local restaurants and local seafood markets. Unfortunately, this illegal practice creates a potential for the closure of Texas oyster harvesting areas that may fall victim to an inaccurate correlation between the illegally imported oysters and the Texas oyster harvesting area, as restaurants and/or seafood markets may disguise the illegally imported products as legitimately harvested oysters.