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TPWD proposes extension of Redfish Bay seagrass protection
AUSTIN — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is proposing to indefinitely extend protection of seagrass from uprooting by outboard motor propellers within the Redfish Bay State Scientific Area along the mid-coast between Rockport and Port Ingleside.
The recommendation presented to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission’s Regulations Committee, which will now go out for public comment, would remove the termination date from the regulation prohibiting uprooting of seagrass within the protected area. If adopted as proposed the regulation would be reviewed periodically like all regulations to determine how well it is working or to determine if any changes are needed.
Seagrass is critical to the coastal environment in that it serves as a nursery for juvenile game fish, crabs and shrimp. It also is a source of food for sea turtles, shorebirds and waterfowl, helps with erosion control and has a biological filtering role in the fragile coastal ecosystem.
TPWD designated a large triangle-shaped area taking in all of Redfish Bay as a state scientific area in 2000. A key goal was to allow submerged seagrasses time for recovery from extensive damage caused by outboard motor propellers as well as preventing further harm to the delicate aquatic plants. When voluntary compliance with no-prop zones proved ineffective, the commission in 2006 made it illegal to uproot seagrass in the scientific area with a submerged propeller.
Extensive studies by TPWD’s Coastal Fisheries Division have proven that the no-prop rule has been successful in protecting seagrass in the scientific area. By eliminating a June 30, 2010 expiration date for the scientific area set five years ago, the prohibition against uprooting seagrass would continue in effect.
TPWD staff also seeks to update the names of two species of seagrass in its regulations to be consistent with the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature.
Public comment on the proposals may be made during upcoming public meetings scheduled for 7 p.m. April 20 at the Aransas County Courthouse, 301 N. Live Oak, Rockport and 7 p.m. April 27 at the Lion’s Field Adult and Senior Community Center, 2809 Broadway, San Antonio or by contacting Jeremy Leitz, TPWD Coastal Fisheries program specialist, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on seagrass and boating in the Redfish Bay State Scientific Area, see http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/landwater/water/habitats/seagrass/
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