Commercial Fishing License Buyback Programs

Texas Parks & Wildlife administers commercial fishing license buyback programs for the inshore shrimp, crab, and finfish fisheries.  Funds generated from a surcharge on these commercial licenses are used for purchasing and retiring commercial crab, finfish, bait shrimp, and bay shrimp licenses. The goal of the program is to stabilize fishing effort and support healthy fisheries stock.

The inshore shrimp fishery limited entry and buyback program was established in 1995, followed by the crab and finfish programs in 1998 and 2000 respectively. Although a similar license moratorium for oyster boat and gulf shrimp licenses was established in 2005, there is no buyback program for these licenses.

The license buyback programs depend on voluntary participation by licensees. Typically, there is one license buyback round per license year held each fall. License holders are notified by mail of a buyback round opening and interested persons are invited to complete and submit an application at that time.  The application period for each round stays open for at least 45 days.

Through the 2014 license year, $14.2 million has been spent to purchase and retire 2,145 commercial Bay and/or Bait Shrimp Boat licenses. This represents 66% of the original 3,231 licenses grandfathered into the fishery in 1995. Additionally, $1.8 million has been spent purchasing 63 Commercial Crab Fisherman’s licenses and 241 Commercial Finfish Fisherman's licenses, retiring 22% and 44% of the licenses respectively.

We are very near to our program goals for retiring eligible licenses.  As you consider entry into each round of the buyback program it may be important for you to keep this in mind. If you are a commercial fisherman in any of the these fisheries and would like to get more information on these programs, please contact:

Project Coordinator, Policy and Education Team
Coastal Fisheries Division
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
(512) 389-8448