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TPWD News Release — Aug. 24, 2007

Opening Day Shrimp Boat Count Lowest On Record

AUSTIN, Texas — Aerial counts of bay and bait shrimp boats working the Texas coast were conducted Aug. 15 after the commercial shrimp season opened. There was good weather for the count, although the coast was bracing for Tropical Storm Erin, which made landfall the next day.

A total of 180 boats were counted coastwide, the lowest number since TPWD began opening day surveys in 1994. Last year, TPWD counted 213 boats active on opening day for the 2006 fall season. Galveston Bay showed a decrease from 122 boats last year to 91 boats this year, a 25 percent decline.

In contrast, Corpus Christi Bay showed an increase from seven boats last year up to 22 boats this year, a 68 percent increase.

“One factor at work here is the TPWD shrimp license buyback program, which is nearing our goals in the program,” said TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division Director Larry McKinney, PhD. Other factors obviously contributing to the reduction in shrimping effort seen is the continued low shrimp prices and the higher costs for fuel.”

The inshore shrimp license buy-back program was established with the limited entry program in 1995 by the Texas legislature. The legislative initiative was designed to more effectively deal with the issue of over-shrimping through capping the sale of new licenses and allowing for a buy-back program to retire licenses from voluntary and willing sellers.