Fishing in Federal Waters

Texas recreational and commercial fishermen fishing more than nine (9) nautical miles off the coast of Texas are in federal waters and are subject to rules and regulations that may differ from those in state waters. An example would be the federal requirement to use non-stainless circle hooks when fishing for reef fish.

Recreational anglers must have a Texas fishing license and saltwater endorsement to bring any fish taken in federal waters ashore in Texas. To ensure that you are in compliance with federal regulations, you should contact the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council at (888) 833-1844 (toll free) or visit the council's website.

The limits and restrictions in this guide apply to aquatic life caught in the public waters of Texas out to nine (9) nautical miles in the Gulf of Mexico, and also apply to aquatic life caught between 9 and 200 nautical miles in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and possessed in state waters or landed in this state. (Federal law also regulates species between 9 and 200 nautical miles managed under a Federal Fishery Management Plan.) See Importation of Wildlife Resources.

Unlawful Possession

It is unlawful to possess aquatic life in Texas waters that was illegally taken in federal waters.