Summary of Proposed Changes to Saltwater Fishing Regulations in the Statewide Recreational and Commercial Fishing Proclamation

Comment online through 08:00 a.m. March 25, 2021.

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View a narrated powerpoint presentation on these proposed regulations | See full text in the Texas Register

Proposal

Allow recreational-only use of up to three crab traps in currently restricted areas of Aransas County. Traps must be securely tethered to a fixed object such as a dock, pier, or bulkhead. The use of crab traps would not be allowed in open water in currently restricted areas of Aransas County.

Background

Restrictions regarding the use of crab traps in parts of Aransas County appear to have been in place since the early 1960’s. Current regulations prohibit waterfront homeowners and shore-based recreational crabbers from fishing for crabs using crab traps attached to fixed objects such as private or public piers, docks, and bulkheads. The proposed regulation change would provide additional recreational opportunity for crab fishing with traps from the areas previously mentioned. The recreational harvest from the additional opportunity is expected to be limited and there are no anticipated impacts to the local crab population. This would not open the restricted area to commercial crabbing. Consequently, there will be no loss of opportunity for commercial crab fisherman because the area is currently closed.

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Proposal

Clarify that bag limits of red snapper caught in federal waters when open for recreational fishing count as part of the bag limit established for the take of red snapper in Texas state waters. During times that federal waters are open for private recreational fishing the federal bag limit for red snapper is two fish. Red snapper caught in federal waters count towards the state bag limit of four fish.

Background

Federal rulemaking based on Amendment 50 of the Gulf of Mexico fishery management plan for reef fish created state-based management programs for recreational angling in each state. States are authorized to establish seasons, bag limits, and size limits for red snapper harvested from federal and state waters. Texas state waters (waters from the shoreline to 9 NM) are open year around for recreational red snapper fishing with a four fish bag limit. By federal action, federal waters (waters from 9 to 200 NM) are closed until June 1 of each year, and the bag limit when open is two fish. The proposed change would clarify that red snapper caught in federal waters when they are open for recreational fishing count as part of the 4 fish bag limit established for the take of red snapper in Texas state waters.

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