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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2018-04-11                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than eight months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
April 11, 2018
Texas Participation Needed for 2018 City Nature Challenge
AUSTIN - Cities around the world will compete April 27-30 to see which urban area has the most nature and the most engaged residents. This City Nature Challenge will include more than 60 cities from 17 countries, including seven Texas metro areas: Amarillo, Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, El Paso, Houston, Lower Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio.
If you live in or around one of these areas, show the world just how much nature we have here in Texas. It's easy to participate by joining an event or making observations on your own using the iNaturalist app. Take a picture of a wild animal, plant or fungi, upload it to iNaturalist (www.inaturalist.org), and the online community will help you accurately identify the species. We will also need help May 1-3 with identifications on iNaturalist, so no matter where you are in the world, share your Texas nature knowledge to help make this project a success.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Master Naturalists, Audubon Society, and many others in Texas will be joining this fun challenge. The data generated from this event will help researchers, land managers and policy makers. How will we measure up to other cities around the world?
Go to https://www.tpwd.texas.gov/naturechallenge or http://www.citynaturechallenge.com/ to watch the Texas leaderboard or learn more about how to participate. Share the City Nature Challenge video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2Ucqg5iTPQ. You can also contact the Texas Nature Trackers program at tracker@tpwd.texas.gov with any questions.
The City Nature Challenge is organized by the California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Let's find some nature!
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[ Note: This item is more than eight months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Editors: Images associated with this news release are available on the TPWD Web site (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/news_images/). ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
April 11, 2018
Texas Game Wardens Put Dent in Illegal Oystering Through Operation Secure Coastal Bend
AUSTIN - A multi-agency law enforcement surge operation led by Texas game wardens has made a sizable dent in illegal commercial oyster harvest and possession along the coastal bend this season, netting more than 300 criminal cases. A majority of the violations were for oystering in off-limits management areas designed to protect the resource, and for possession of undersized oysters.
Operation Secure Coastal Bend consisted of two, weeklong saturation patrols conducted by Texas game wardens between Nov. 1, 2017 and April 9, 2018 in collaboration with officers from the U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Air and Marine, CBP Office of Field Operations, U.S. Coast Guard, Calhoun County Sherriff's Office and the Aransas County Sherriff's Office.
"From our inception well over a century ago, one of the original mandates for Texas game wardens has been to protect the state's oyster resource," said Col. Grahame Jones, Law Enforcement Director for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. "I am appalled that some in the oyster industry continually fail to recognize how impactful their actions are, not just relating to future commercial oyster harvests, but to the overall health of our incredibly fragile and sensitive bay systems. Texas game wardens take the protection of our oyster reefs extremely seriously and we will remain committed to this important effort."
Armed with additional laws created by the 85th Texas Legislature to help combat the harvest of undersized oysters through enhanced penalties, law enforcement officials are now able to hold all workers on oyster boats accountable for possession of undersized oysters. Previously, only the boat's captain was responsible for an illegal catch. New rules that took effect last November reduce the commercial possession limit of oysters from 40 sacks to 30 sacks per day, reduce the allowable amount of undersized oyster take from 15 percent to 5 percent and closed Saturday to the commercial harvest of oysters.
"Management closures are designed to protect juvenile and sub-adult oysters from harvest and fishing mortality associated with commercial fishing operations," said Robin Riechers, TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division Director. "Left to grow, these sub-adult oysters should reach legal sizes by the beginning of the next season."
In addition to the 300 citations, game wardens issued numerous warnings. During the operation, officers also seized one firearm with serial number removed, recovered 50 pounds of marijuana that had washed up on Matagorda Island, are investigating two cases of hunting without landowner consent, and arrested four individuals for oyster violations. U.S. Coast Guard boarding officers also identified 35 violations related to vessel crew and safety requirements.
Watch game wardens in action during the operation in this TPWD YouTube video https://youtu.be/8EBluAq_voQ.
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[ Note: This item is more than eight months old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
April 11, 2018
TPWD Closing Oyster Harvest in Areas of Copano Bay
AUSTIN - The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is closing TX-32 in Copano Bay to commercial and recreational oyster harvest beginning Saturday, April 14, 2018.
This closing is based on samples recently collected by TPWD showing low abundance of legal-sized oysters. Chapter 76, Parks and Wildlife Code, and the Oyster Management Proclamation, Section 58.21(c)(1), allows for the emergency closure of an area to oyster harvest when it can be shown that the area has been overworked or is to be reseeded.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Oyster Advisory Workgroup, a group of Texas commercial oyster fishermen and dealers, have established criteria based on the abundance of legal-sized oysters (greater than 3 inches) and the percentage of small oysters (2-2.9 inches) for determining when an area should be closed.
"Sampling results indicate the number of legal oysters is very limited in these areas," says TPWD's Coastal Fisheries Deputy Director Lance Robinson. "This closure is designed to provide some protection to undersize oysters so they can reach legal sizes. The area will be closely monitored by TPWD and will reopen next November unless sampling indicates a continuation of the closure is warranted."
A map showing the area can be found on the Department of State Health Services website.
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