Monday, January 30th, 2023
Monday, January 30th, 2023

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Flounder, Paddle Craft Guides and Consistency with Fed Regs Top Coastal Fisheries Issues at TPW Commission Hearing

Austin, Texas — Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissioners Wednesday
approved several proposed changes to saltwater fishing regulations
recommended by TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division staff. The changes
include new regulations dealing with flounder, federal consistency
issues for sharks and other species, and a paddle craft licensing
and training program. Scoping of these issues has been ongoing
since the fall of 2008.

The Coastal Fisheries Division proposals are part of statewide
proposed hunting and fishing regulation changes for the upcoming
2009-2010 season. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has set a
record 46 public hearings across the state in February and March to
explain the proposals and seek public input. Hearing dates and
locations are on the
2009 TPWD Statewide Public Hearings Web page
. After the
regulations proposals are published in the Texas Register in early
February, anyone may also comment online via the
TPWD Opportunities for Comment Web page
. The TPW Commission
will make final decisions about proposed regulations at its March
25-26 meeting in Austin.

Details about the possible regulation changes can be found
below, and TPWD invites the public to weigh in on these possible
proposals by clicking the public comments section on the TPWD home page.

Flounder — As briefed at the August Commission
meeting Coastal Fisheries biologists believe that long-term
downward trends in the southern flounder fishery warrant
consideration of proposed regulations that will reverse the
downward trend in abundance. The proposal approved by the
Commission for publication in the Texas Register includes a
statewide closure for the month of November. Additionally, the
proposal would change bag limits to five fish for recreational
anglers and 30 fish for commercial anglers. Possession limits for
flounder are the same as bag limits.

Federal Consistency — Coastal Fisheries staff
continue to look at several species managed jointly with the
National Marine Fisheries Service and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery
Management Council to become more consistent in terms of bag and
size limits.

Sharks — Specifically, this item will change
the minimum length limit for those species allowed from 24 inches
total length (TL) to 64 inches TL, except for Atlantic sharpnose,
blacktip, and bonnethead sharks which will retain the current 24
inch TL minimum length limit. For the allowable shark species the
bag limit will remain one fish per person per day and a two fish
possession limit. In addition a prohibited list (zero bag limit)
will be established for the following shark species:

  • Atlantic angel, Squatina dumerili
  • Basking, Cetorhinus maximus
  • Bigeye sand tiger, Odontaspis noronhai
  • Bigeye sixgill, Hexanchus vitulus
  • Bigeye thresher, Alopias superciliosus
  • Bignose, Carcharhinus altimus
  • Caribbean reef, Carcharhinus perezi
  • Caribbean sharpnose, Rhizoprionodon porosus
  • Dusky, Carcharhinus obscurus
  • Galapagos, Carcharhinus galapagensis
  • Longfin mako, Isurus paucus
  • Narrowtooth, Carcharhinus brachyurus
  • Night, Carcharhinus signatus
  • Sandbar, Carcharhinus plumbeus
  • Sand tiger, Odontaspis taurus
  • Sevengill, Heptranchias perlo
  • Silky, Carcharhinus falciformis
  • Sixgill, Hexanchus griseus
  • Smalltail, Carcharhinus porosus
  • Whale, Rhincodon typus
  • White, Carcharodon carcharias

Other Species — The proposed amendments include
species that have been found to be in an overfished condition or
undergoing overfishing. The proposed changes include: increasing
the minimum size limit for greater amberjack from 32 inches to 34
inches TL, and establishing minimum size limits of 14 inches for
gray triggerfish and 22 inches for gag. The bag limit for gray
triggerfish would be 20 per person and for gag grouper it would be
set at 2 per person with the possession limits being twice the
daily bag limit.

Paddle Craft Licensing — A proposal to consider
a change that would allow paddle craft operators to receive a
saltwater guide license by establishing a different set of
requirements other than a United States Coast Guard (USCG) Operator
of an Uninspected Passenger Vessel license. The USCG license
current requirements may fail to address the unique safety issues
associated with paddle craft and also may be restricting the
licensing of paddle craft guides due to the “sea time” requirement.
The proposal will create a paddle craft guide license and in order
to receive the license the guide will have to show certification or
proof of completion of a TPWD boater safety course and CPR/First
Aid training, and completion of the American Canoe Association
“Level II Essentials of Kayak Touring” and “Coastal Kayak Trip
Leading” courses or British Canoe Union “Three Star Sea Kayak” and
“Four Star Leader Sea Kayak” courses.

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