|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2012-11-09                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than six years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [TH]
Nov. 9, 2012
Group Recommends Ways to Protect Texas Seagrass, Reduce Coastal User Conflicts
AUSTIN - An advisory group of fishing, boating and conservation interests has made nine recommendations to protect seagrass and five to reduce user conflicts along the Texas coast, Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissioners were told in a briefing here this week.
The 19-member Coastal User Working Group was created by TPW Commission Chairman Dan Friedkin of Houston and led by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Coastal Fisheries Director Robin Riechers, with representatives from the fishing, guiding, paddling, airboating, and birding communities, TPWD Law Enforcement, and various conservation organizations. The group met several times in recent months and recently completed a report containing its recommendations.
As seagrass meadows play a critical ecological role on the Texas, supporting higher biodiversity and production that any other biotic community, the working group's highest priority recommendation, with near unanimous agreement, was for the State of Texas to develop a coastwide seagrass protection regulation. While TPWD does not currently have authority to create such a regulation, the working group said the department should collaborate and communicate with outside organizations and the Texas Legislature to create one. The group had other seagrass protection recommendations, including creating detailed maps depicting seagrass locations, developing tide indicators, and promoting a seagrass awareness campaign.
User conflicts are also likely to escalate as more people come to the Texas coast. Texas now has about 800,000 saltwater anglers, approximately 600,000 registered boats, and more than 74,000 duck hunters. These three user groups, and others, enjoy the coast in an increasing variety of ways. Wildlife watching in Texas has increased from just over 4 million people in 2006 to more than 6 million in 2011. Other activities such as kayaking, windsurfing, and shell collecting are also increasingly popular. As these numbers grow, the amount of recreation space available in Texas's bays and estuaries remains finite, increasing the likelihood of user conflicts.
In an effort to reduce current and potential future user conflict between increasing and diversifying recreational activities, the working group developed five recommendations. These include the development of a code of ethics, lowering the minimum age required for boater education, and working with other agencies to allow for more effective rookery signage to be placed near bird nesting islands.
"Everyone who loves the Texas coast can appreciate the work of the Coastal User Working Group, and we at Texas Parks and Wildlife will be taking a hard look at their recommendations," Riechers said. "Some of these, such as public education and signage, are an expansion of things we're already doing. Many will require outside help. But their report gives us a thoughtful base of support to move forward."
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[ Note: This item is more than six years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Spencer Dumont, (325) 651-4846; spencer.dumont@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Nov. 9, 2012
Drought Slowly Taking Toll on Lakes Brownwood and Coleman
ATHENS--Lakes Brownwood and Coleman are historically known for consistent and decent largemouth bass fishing, where anglers could expect to catch a bunch of small bass with a few keepers along the way and even an occasional big bass. But the current downhill slide of water level, dating back to 2007, is beginning to take a toll on these bass populations based on recent electrofishing surveys, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's standard method of collecting information on numbers and sizes of largemouth bass in a lake.
The electrofishing catch of small adult bass (8 to 13 inches long) at Lake Brownwood this fall tumbled to 31 bass in one hour of sampling--less than half the average catch of fish this size at Brownwood. For comparison, in 2006 the catch was 108.
As water level declines, so does the quality and quantity of habitat, leading to poor spawning success and exposure of more little bass to hungry predators. The good news is numbers of 14-inch and larger bass have been consistent since 2008 and, and based on this fall's survey, an angler may catch two "keepers" for every 11 fish caught.
Lake Coleman has a bass population mirroring Brownwood's. TPWD had the lowest catch of young-of-the-year bass (bass from the spring spawn) since 1997, crashing to 29 bass in one hour this fall. This was down from 150 in 2008, and catch of 8- to 13-inch bass was half what it was in 2008.
However, there is good news at Coleman, at least for now. In one hour of electrofishing TPWD caught 21 bass that were at least 14 inches long. Most were 14 and 15 inches and the biggest was 17 inches. "This was the highest catch for keeper-sized bass since 1997 and almost double what we normally see at Coleman," said Spencer Dumont, fisheries biologist and program director for TPWD. "Many of these fish likely originated from spawns in the good ole' days of 2007 and 2008, when water was as plentiful as Texas sunshine. For sure, without significant rain this winter or spring, bass populations--and bass fishing--at Brownwood and Coleman will decline as older and bigger bass die and fewer 'replacement' bass are available to take their place."
For more information on area reservoirs and fish populations, contact the Abilene inland fisheries district office at (325) 692-0921, send an email to spencer.dumont@tpwd.texas.gov or visit our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/tpwdifabilene.