Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Regulations Committee

January 19, 2000

Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744

      7      BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the 19th
      8   day of January 2000, there came on to be heard
      9   matters under the regulatory authority of the
     10   Parks and Wildlife  Commission of Texas, in the
     11   commission hearing room of the Texas Parks and
     12   Wildlife Headquarters complex, Austin, Travis
     13   County, Texas, beginning at 10:17 a.m.,  to wit:
     14
     15
          APPEARANCES:
     16   THE PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:
     17   REGULATIONS COMMITTEE:
          Chair:      Lee M. Bass
     18               Carol E. Dinkins
                      Dick W. Heath (absent)
     19               Nolan Ryan
                      Ernest Angelo, Jr.
     20               John Avila, Jr.
                      Alvin L. Henry
     21               Katharine Armstrong Idsal
                      Mark E. Watson, Jr.
     22
          THE PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:
     23   Andrew H. Sansom, Executive Director, and other
          personnel of the Parks and Wildlife Department.
     24
     25
.0002
      1                   JANUARY 19, 2000
      2                      *-*-*-*-*
      3            REGULATIONS COMMITTEE MEETING
      4                      *-*-*-*-*
      5                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Okay.  We'll now
      6   proceed with our regulations committee meeting.
      7   And I think our first order of business will be
      8   approval of the minutes from our earlier meeting
      9   which have been distributed.  Does anybody have
     10   any comments or a motion for approval?
     11                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Move
     12   approval.
     13                CHAIRMAN BASS:  I have a motion.
     14                COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Second.
     15                CHAIRMAN BASS:  All in favor?
     16                (Motion passed unanimously.)
     17                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Motion carries.
     18   Thank you.
     19   AGENDA ITEM NO. 1: BRIEFING - CHAIRMAN'S CHARGES.
     20                Briefing on the chairman's charges.
     21   Mr. Sansom, would you please speak to that.
     22                MR. SANSOM:  Mr. Chairman, I would
     23   only note that the Sunset process is proceeding.
     24   We have, fortunately, some members of the team
     25   are here with us today.  They have completed a
.0003
      1   trip through the Trans Pecos last week.  And we
      2   have a meeting scheduled with the Sunset
      3   Commission, our first meeting, February 3rd.
      4                Currently the public meeting to
      5   examine the recommendations of the Sunset
      6   Committee staff is proposed for May 18th.  You
      7   will see on your agenda this morning a proposed
      8   licensed management system for Finfish, which is
      9   a direct follow-through on the charges.  And
     10   Doctor McKinney will also discuss an accelerated
     11   opportunity for -- to accelerate the buyback
     12   program in the bay shrimp fishery.
     13                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Andy, do I
     14   understand correctly that the 18th is the day of
     15   the public -- or the meeting where it will be
     16   appropriate for the Commission to appear in front
     17   of the Sunset Commission?
     18                MR. SANSOM:  Yes, sir.
     19                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  February the
     20   18th?
     21                MR. SANSOM:  May.
     22                CHAIRMAN BASS:  May the 18th.
     23                MR. SANSOM:  Now, our first meeting
     24   before the Commission will be on February 3rd.
     25   At that meeting I have been invited to appear and
.0004
      1   present the issues which we all discussed and
      2   appeared in our self-evaluation report, to
      3   comment about the process a little bit, and to
      4   take any questions or comments that the members
      5   might present.  And I would be remiss if I did
      6   not indicate to you-all that any of you would
      7   certainly be welcome and most helpful at that
      8   meeting as well.  The crucial meeting will be the
      9   May 18th meeting.
     10                CHAIRMAN BASS:  And also we're
     11   scheduled for availability to meet with the
     12   representatives of the work force --
     13                MR. SANSOM:  Tomorrow afternoon.
     14                CHAIRMAN BASS:  -- tomorrow
     15   afternoon after the public session.  Thank you.
     16   Anything else?
     17      AGENDA ITEM NO. 2:  ACTION - 2000-2001
     18      STATEWIDE HUNTING AND FISHING PROCLAMATION.
     19                MR. SANSOM:  No.
     20                CHAIRMAN BASS:  All right.  We have
     21   three items on the agenda, all of which will be
     22   action items under consideration of the full
     23   commission meeting tomorrow.  The first one that
     24   we'll review at this time is the statewide
     25   hunting and fishing proclamation.  And I believe
.0005
      1   Doctor McKinney is going to lead off this portion
      2   with some information for us on the license
      3   buyback program.
      4                DR. McKINNEY:  Thank you,
      5   Mr. Chairman.  For the record, I'm Larry
      6   McKinney, senior director for aquatic resources
      7   and joining me will be Hal Osburn, our director
      8   for coastal fisheries.
      9                I've been asked to lay out in front
     10   of you is something for your consideration that
     11   we would seek your input on and some direction of
     12   considering this idea as we go through our public
     13   hearings as -- to judge support or interest or
     14   concerns about the possibility of accelerating
     15   our buyback programs in our commercial fisheries,
     16   particularly in the shrimp.
     17                Certainly one of the important
     18   issues for us in our coastal management and one,
     19   I think, if you're going to lay out the top six
     20   or ten issues, is the impact of shrimping on our
     21   bays and estuaries.  It's certainly of great
     22   concern to us, and finding ways to address that
     23   issue is an important one to us.
     24                This picture was taken by Earl
     25   Nottingham of our staff in Aransas Bay last year
.0006
      1   and I think it pretty well illustrates the
      2   concerns we're talking about of really too many
      3   and too much from all perspectives, from the
      4   commercial and recreational fisheries as well,
      5   and that's what we want to talk about
      6   addressing.  And one way to do that is to look at
      7   an accelerated licensed buyback approach.
      8                Certainly accomplishing the goals of
      9   our limited entry programs that our agency has
     10   pioneered through the Gulf would be enhanced and
     11   would be of benefit to both our recreational
     12   commercial industries, if we could do that.  And
     13   accelerating that program has broad support in
     14   both fisheries in general terms.  The specifics
     15   is, the devil is in the details, as always, and
     16   that's what we want to talk about.
     17                The status of our buyback efforts
     18   today, of course in shrimp we've been underway
     19   for some time.  Of the 3,231 original licenses
     20   we've retired about 15 percent.  In the crab
     21   fishery we had 287 original licenses when we
     22   started that.  We have not really begun that
     23   process, and certainly Finfish has just been
     24   passed this last legislative session with 970
     25   licenses, and we have not begun to purchase there
.0007
      1   either.  So shrimp is the area that we've focused
      2   on and continue to do so.
      3                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Larry, the 15
      4   percent of the licenses retired, do we have any
      5   way to measure what corresponding reduction in
      6   effort that might represent?
      7                DR. McKINNEY:  I'm going to ask Hal
      8   to kick in here a little bit.  Not a great deal.
      9   I'm going to say, in that there were of course
     10   through speculators, people that had those
     11   licenses and then held them.  To some extent you
     12   have to take those out of the market.
     13                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Take those out
     14   first.
     15                DR. McKINNEY:  Some boats have gone
     16   with that.  Hal, maybe -- please comment.
     17                MR. OSBURN:  Well, every license is
     18   a potential effort in the future.  When we return
     19   our stocks to the shape we want them to be in,
     20   and if those licenses are retired, then that
     21   potential effort is eliminated.  We know that the
     22   first half of our buyback or the first portion of
     23   our buyback is going to include speculators.  So
     24   the amount of effort and, of course, the ones
     25   remaining in the fishery can choose to shrimp
.0008
      1   harder, as well.  So it's going to -- it's not
      2   the only solution, is buying them back.  That's
      3   the status.
      4                CHAIRMAN BASS:  I guess it's safe to
      5   say we have a reduced effort by 15 percent.  But
      6   do you think we have reduced effort by -- would
      7   you even have any way to speculate whether five
      8   percent would be a reasonable number or --
      9                MR. OSBURN:  I think in an average
     10   year we would have reduced effort actually closer
     11   to the ten percent range.  This last year,
     12   however, mother nature helped us reduce effort by
     13   having a very poor shrimp crop.  Of course, our
     14   overcapitalization has contributed to that.  But
     15   the low shrimp yield produced a side effect of a
     16   lot of shrimpers just not going out there.  So we
     17   actually had a fairly significant reduction in
     18   effort.  But on the average, I think the 15
     19   percent did have -- did contribute in a
     20   measurable way to our effort of reduction.
     21                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.
     22                DR. McKINNEY:  Towards that line,
     23   one of the options which we want to focus on
     24   today, talk about is how to accelerate that
     25   program.  The option that we're -- laid out on
.0009
      1   the table for discussion is possibly increasing
      2   the saltwater fishing stamp, adding a fee to it
      3   that would be dedicated to buyback.
      4                What we have not included in this
      5   discussion, for example, is increasing the fee
      6   that the commercial fishermen already pay.  They
      7   do contribute to the buyback fund about $140,000
      8   a year.  That's another option that can be looked
      9   at.  And we've kind of held back on that in that
     10   that whole issue is being reviewed under Sunset
     11   and also by an audit by the comptroller's office
     12   to look at commercial fisheries.  So I think that
     13   will be addressed in that way.
     14                But looking at this particular
     15   option, we certainly have some experience in this
     16   area.  And with -- have laid out some criteria
     17   for success in doing that.  For example, clearly
     18   if we were going to increase that saltwater stamp
     19   amount, it needs broad constituent support to
     20   make it successful.  People really need to do --
     21   would want to support it.  We would certainly
     22   want to have very clearly defined goals and
     23   measurable goals that we'd want to set so we
     24   could say, here's what we want to accomplish,
     25   here's how we can measure if we're accomplishing
.0010
      1   that.  And the third element there is basically a
      2   defined sunset on an activity like this.  People
      3   are always concerned, well, if you increase the
      4   fee for a particular reason, you're just going to
      5   keep that fee and you'll just keep on going with
      6   it.  One way to allay that fear is to say, we'll
      7   set a goal at what we think we can achieve and at
      8   that date the program would basically end, and it
      9   would take proaction on your part to continue
     10   it.  But we would have measures and go at it.  So
     11   that's kind of the premises that we've proceeded
     12   on.
     13                So the first thing we looked at in
     14   the buyback is, let's say we -- let's set a goal
     15   of retiring 50 percent of those original
     16   licenses.  And we picked that goal.  One is
     17   because it translates into some efforts back and
     18   basically trying to reduce efforts to something
     19   that we saw perhaps back in the '70s.  And that's
     20   an important point that I know Hal is probably
     21   going to make some comment on.  But in setting
     22   goals, you have to be careful.  Our goal is not
     23   necessarily just to buyback licenses.  I mean,
     24   that's a benefit to the commercial industry.  It
     25   helps them reach a sustainable fishery, which we
.0011
      1   want to do.
      2                But the other objective from impacts
      3   on other parts of ecology of the coast and
      4   recreational is effort.  As the chairman referred
      5   to, our real goal is reduced effort.  And how can
      6   we measure that, how do we combine it?  That's a
      7   little bit more difficult.  We know, for example,
      8   that for every three licenses, there's probably
      9   two boats.  For three licenses, there's two boats
     10   associated with those licenses, so as you reduce
     11   in that term, you can have an effect that way.
     12   But making a very clear -- setting a very clear
     13   goal of what we think we can achieve and reducing
     14   effort will be key to this.  But difficult, too,
     15   as we just discussed.
     16                So here are the options that we laid
     17   out.  We looked at three pricing options, an
     18   increase of $3, $2, and $1.  We further split
     19   that out into an overall increase of the
     20   saltwater stamp, basically saying, if you buy our
     21   super combo, it basically says that super combo
     22   would increase by $3 because of the additional
     23   figure.
     24                Now, we've had some concern, we'll
     25   talk about perhaps, or if you want to, that that
.0012
      1   super combo is a really -- it's a good selling
      2   item, it's right -- the price at $49 is under
      3   50.  Do we have to -- what happens if you kick
      4   that over to the 52 or 3?  There's some issues
      5   there.
      6                So we also looked at an option of
      7   just selling -- increasing the saltwater stamp
      8   itself, not with combo.  But when you buy your
      9   individual fishing license to fish on the coast,
     10   you have to buy a stamp.  It would be only
     11   increased for those people that only buy fishing
     12   licenses, not the combo, to kind of look at it.
     13   And that has some advantages and that type of
     14   thing, but that's how it was set out.  And then
     15   we did the same across those dollar ranges.
     16                So you can see that the amount of
     17   money that would be generated, that's the next
     18   line, under each one of those scenarios.  And our
     19   projection on the third -- on the middle line of
     20   how long it would take us to reach our 50 percent
     21   goal if, for example, we just increased our
     22   saltwater stamp $3 across the board, for both
     23   combos and so forth, we feel we could hit our 50
     24   percent goal in three years.  If we only dealt
     25   with the super -- nonsuper combo stamps, it would
.0013
      1   take us five years, and so on.  And a projection
      2   of the amount of money we would spend over that
      3   period of time to do that.
      4                Unless there's any questions, I'll
      5   go on to another table, that's basically what
      6   that would look like.
      7                We looked at another option, and
      8   that basically says, well, what if we wanted to
      9   address all of our commercial fisheries?  What if
     10   we wanted to try to accelerate buyback not only
     11   in shrimp, certainly shrimp is the focus, but can
     12   we do so in crab and finfish?  And so we came up
     13   with an option and looked at trying to hit our 50
     14   percent goal in shrimp, but let's dedicate 30
     15   percent of the monies to crab and finfish over
     16   this period of time and see what would happen.
     17                And this is the chart on that.  That
     18   bottom line there just basically shows that, for
     19   example, using the first two on the table, if we
     20   added $3 across the board, that in that period of
     21   time we're talking about, that we would retire 50
     22   percent of the shrimp licenses, we would also
     23   retire about 36 percent of all those others
     24   licenses as well.  And then you can follow the
     25   scenario across the board.
.0014
      1                What that does, I want to make sure
      2   we point that out, is that if we try to be more
      3   broad and not just look at shrimp alone, you can
      4   see -- I pulled this number off that first
      5   chart -- that it does increase the amount of time
      6   it takes to reach our 50 percent goal in shrimp.
      7   And, again, I'll use those first two columns,
      8   where if we focused only on shrimp and not the
      9   other fisheries, it would take us three and five
     10   years under the $3 scenario, to reach our goal.
     11   Whereas if we rolled in finfish and crabs, it
     12   would take us five and six years.  It would
     13   basically add two years to the first scenario,
     14   one year to the others to reach our goal.  So it
     15   adds some time.
     16                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Larry, just to be
     17   sure I understand your chart correctly.  Your
     18   column that $3 with combo, and under that
     19   scenario the combo license would go from 49 to
     20   52.
     21                DR. McKINNEY:  $3 addition.
     22                CHAIRMAN BASS:  In addition to that
     23   the fishing-only license would also increase $3.
     24   If you only bought a fishing license, not a
     25   combo, would that license --
.0015
      1                DR. McKINNEY:  No.  It's associated
      2   with the saltwater stamp.  Anytime you buy a
      3   saltwater stamp --
      4                CHAIRMAN BASS:  The stamp would go
      5   up --
      6                DR. McKINNEY:  -- it's $3.
      7                CHAIRMAN BASS:  If you bought a
      8   fishing license plus a stamp.  Okay.
      9                DR. McKINNEY:  If you just bought a
     10   normal fishing license and didn't go to the
     11   coast, no change.
     12                CHAIRMAN BASS:  If I bought a
     13   regular fishing license and a stamp, I would also
     14   be paying $3 extra?
     15                DR. McKINNEY:  Additional $3.
     16   Right.
     17                CHAIRMAN BASS:  The second column,
     18   $3 without combo, the combo would stay at 49 but
     19   the separate stamp would go up?
     20                DR. McKINNEY:  The separate stamp
     21   would go up.
     22                MR. SANSOM:  You would also expect
     23   in that scenario that you would drive people more
     24   to the combo.  So the percentage of combo would
     25   go up to this program as well.
.0016
      1                DR. McKINNEY:  And that's a formula
      2   we'd look at to see if it did.  Because you
      3   would, you'd think it makes that combo even a
      4   better deal because of that.
      5                COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Does monies
      6   from the combo go to this program?
      7                MR. SANSOM:  Not now.
      8                DR. McKINNEY:  Not now.  There's --
      9   only -- we have a fund, a buyback fund that's
     10   supported solely by the commercial fisheries.  A
     11   portion of their license fee goes to that fund,
     12   about $149,000.
     13                COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Well, to the
     14   extent that the saltwater stamp might flush
     15   people over into the combo, would that be an
     16   appropriate source for some funds?
     17                DR. McKINNEY:  Well, we would have
     18   to look at it.  We'd have to come up with some
     19   kind of formula because we hope those sales are
     20   going up.  And it may go up regardless.  We'd
     21   have to sit down and try to figure out a formula
     22   that would be acceptable to apportion that out.
     23   But certainly it can.
     24                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  What's the
     25   explanation of the dollar spent column?  I don't
.0017
      1   know that I understand that.  Those numbers don't
      2   actually go under the upper heading or do they?
      3                DR. McKINNEY:  On the bottom, the
      4   third?
      5                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Right.
      6                DR. McKINNEY:  That is, if we hit
      7   our goal in that five-year period, for example,
      8   in the first one, we will have expended 8.8 --
      9   our calculations would be that over that
     10   five-year period we would have expended $8.8
     11   million in the program.  That's the total amount
     12   of dollars generated over that period to hit 50
     13   percent of the licenses.
     14                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  What -- how
     15   does it get to be 22.3 million on -- am I reading
     16   that right?  I don't think I understand the rest
     17   of the table.
     18                DR. McKINNEY:  Over the --
     19                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I'm looking at
     20   the shrimp license.
     21                MR. SANSOM:  He's back one slide
     22   from where you are.
     23                DR. McKINNEY:  Okay.  Let me go -- I
     24   think I can go back.
     25                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  On the one
.0018
      1   you're looking at, it goes to 29.5.
      2                DR. McKINNEY:  Over 55?
      3                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  That's 54
      4   years.
      5                DR. McKINNEY:  Over that period of
      6   time.  If it took us that long, we'd continue
      7   to --
      8                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  It costs that
      9   much more if you do it over that period of time?
     10   Is that what you're saying?
     11                DR. McKINNEY:  If you're only buying
     12   a few licenses at a time.
     13                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  So it costs
     14   that much more to do it.
     15                CHAIRMAN BASS:  And he's putting a
     16   ten percent inflation --
     17                MR. OSBURN:  Right.
     18                DR. McKINNEY:  There's a ten percent
     19   inflation on there.  That does --
     20                MR. OSBURN:  That's the primary
     21   reason, is the inflation.
     22                DR. McKINNEY:  It does drive that
     23   up.  I guess that's why we fight inflation so
     24   much.
     25                CHAIRMAN BASS:  As they become more
.0019
      1   scarce, you would expect the price to outpace the
      2   basic inflation.
      3                DR. McKINNEY:  What we're doing is
      4   finally creating a real market.  There will be a
      5   point where they will be too valuable for us to
      6   actually buy.
      7                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  So the point
      8   of that is, it's a shorter time that you can get
      9   them is.  It would be --
     10                CHAIRMAN BASS:  From a pure business
     11   point of view, I would think the shorter time
     12   that we could buy them back, we might be able to
     13   get -- to pull more out of the --
     14                MR. SANSOM:  The cost per unit is
     15   more efficient?
     16                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Yeah.  Pull them out
     17   of the marketplace at a faster rate than the
     18   industry recovers, than the actual competing bids
     19   from people wanting to enter the industry would
     20   raise the price.
     21                MR. SANSOM:  And that's particularly
     22   true, given the conditions in the fishery, you
     23   know, at the present time.
     24                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  So that you
     25   need to do it faster, for that reason, too.
.0020
      1                DR. McKINNEY:  If we were to address
      2   more than shrimp, for example, if we were to
      3   include all of those, both finfish and crabs,
      4   we'd try to maintain some flexibility in where we
      5   put our money in any one year.  Because one year
      6   we might be able to buy lots of crab licenses or
      7   shrimp.  So you want to take advantage of the
      8   market that you've created.
      9                CHAIRMAN BASS:  There would need to
     10   be more guidelines than --
     11                DR. McKINNEY:  Yeah, I mean, you
     12   just want to maximize your dollar's return within
     13   the goals that you set.
     14                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  What's the going
     15   price of the buyback license?
     16                DR. McKINNEY:  About six, 6,000.
     17                COMMISSIONER RYAN:   6,000?
     18                DR. McKINNEY:  In that range.  I
     19   think.  It hasn't changed?
     20                DR. McKINNEY:   Yes.
     21                MR. SANSOM:  And that's accelerating
     22   pretty rapidly in the years that I've --
     23                CHAIRMAN BASS:  We've spent how much
     24   money to date, Hal?
     25                MR. OSBURN:  About two and a half
.0021
      1   million dollars.
      2                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  How much do we
      3   have in the fund?
      4                MR. OSBURN:  We've spent the fund
      5   down to -- we've only got like $150,000,
      6   $200,000, which is this year's license monies.
      7   Normally we've had enough money because we got
      8   some grants the last couple of years.  We had a
      9   $1.3 million grant that has been allowing us to
     10   have a buyback twice a year.  We don't have
     11   enough to have but one buyback this year.  And it
     12   won't have as much money as any of the previous
     13   license buybacks.
     14                CHAIRMAN BASS:  We've also been able
     15   to use some funds from litigation settlements, I
     16   guess, the environmental fines that were imposed
     17   on the coast.  Some of that money flowed into
     18   this fund, did it not?
     19                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  And we've
     20   depleted that?
     21                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Yes.  That's not to
     22   say that another industrial user or something
     23   might not incur a fine in the future that
     24   would --
     25                DR. McKINNEY:  And contribution from
.0022
      1   the private --
      2                CHAIRMAN BASS:  But we can't budget
      3   it.
      4                DR. McKINNEY:  And that's kind of a
      5   bonus.  If we get the cooperation with CCA or --
      6   that would be additional monies that came in.
      7   And, for example, what we're talking about, we
      8   got almost a million dollar infusion from that
      9   kind of source.  That really accelerated our
     10   efforts.  So those come along, that helps cut
     11   time off.  A million dollars, you cut a year off
     12   the program, basically, we've generated and
     13   reduced.
     14                The last one and I think we've
     15   already discussed them, is just some
     16   considerations that you've discussed, that
     17   certainly we have the legislative authority.  As
     18   we move forward, we'll have to deal with the
     19   appropriations authority to make sure that it's
     20   covered.  If we were to move into this program
     21   very quickly, then we have some limits.  We only
     22   have about $2 million over our existing
     23   appropriations authority.  Market issues.  We've
     24   discussed those.  That basically is it and kind
     25   of where we are on --
.0023
      1                MR. OSBURN:  Let me just add one
      2   final thought.  Our shrimp rule review, which we
      3   have in progress now, that we hope this summer to
      4   have some -- a restructured set of fishing rules
      5   for you that would be more ecologically sound,
      6   sustainable.  This buyback is complimentary to
      7   that.  So that as we change the dynamics in the
      8   fishery and folks don't want to be a part of the
      9   new, you know, ecologically responsible fishery
     10   that we need to create, that gives them an option
     11   to move out, kind of painlessly.  And that helps
     12   the fishing communities along the coast.  But
     13   without money in the buyback, we don't have a way
     14   to do that.
     15                CHAIRMAN BASS:  It gives them an
     16   exit option that they would not have if there
     17   wasn't money in the buyback.
     18                MR. OSBURN:  Right.  Buyback can't
     19   solve the problem alone.  New means and methods
     20   can't solve the problem alone.  But complimentary
     21   to each other, they can.
     22                DR. McKINNEY:  I call this Hal's A &
     23   M strategy.  Highway 6 runs both ways.  We'll buy
     24   you out, but if you don't -- you know, and set
     25   the rules. But we can get you that.
.0024
      1                CHAIRMAN BASS:  How many saltwater
      2   license do we sell a year, approximately, now,
      3   separate from, you know --
      4                MR. OSBURN:  Stamps, I think is
      5   about 450, 500 thousand, about 500,000.
      6                CHAIRMAN BASS:  And out of each
      7   commercial license, what, $50 goes into the
      8   buyback fund?
      9                MR. OSBURN:  25.
     10                CHAIRMAN BASS:  $25.
     11                DR. McKINNEY:  Not much, really.
     12                MR. OSBURN:  We're getting about
     13   $200,000 a year from all of our commercial
     14   licenses.
     15                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Well, there is some
     16   symmetry to the sports fishermen putting some
     17   dollars in alongside the commercial people,
     18   because that's -- certainly the benefit flows
     19   both ways.
     20                What you're really asking from us or
     21   intending to do with our consent is to go forward
     22   with these ideas and bounce them around in the
     23   constituent of groups and see what level of
     24   support there is or alternative ideas that might
     25   grow out of --
.0025
      1                MR. OSBURN:   Yes.
      2                DR. McKINNEY:  What questions come
      3   up.
      4                MR. SANSOM:  A lot of it boils down
      5   to whether the anglers proceed if there's -- you
      6   know, there's value to them.
      7                MR. OSBURN:  I will tell you that we
      8   have done, in conjunction with Texas A & M
      9   University, some mail surveys a number of years.
     10   And we have asked, do you feel like you're
     11   getting value from your saltwater stamp.  And the
     12   ratings are very, very high, that, yes, folks are
     13   getting value, the law enforcement and management
     14   both.  And so there is certainly a core support
     15   for the saltwater stamp.  Whether it remains with
     16   license increases is something else we want to --
     17                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  What does that
     18   stamp cost day?
     19                MR. OSBURN:  $7.
     20                DR. McKINNEY:  I would echo the
     21   Executive Director's comment.  I think it's an
     22   important one, that whether we can do this or
     23   not, we have to have our fishing constituents,
     24   recreational fishers comfortable that -- what
     25   they're going to get for that.  That there's
.0026
      1   going to be a reduced effort dealing with
      2   by-catch.  And I think we can demonstrate it, but
      3   how we do, and make sure will be -- that will be
      4   the key.  That's all from me at this time, sir.
      5                CHAIRMAN BASS:  I'd encourage you to
      6   go forward and let's find out.  There's a lot of
      7   discussion up and down the coast and inland, as
      8   well, about ways to try to accelerate this.  I
      9   personally wouldn't be too worried that 49 plus
     10   three doesn't -- there's not a 52 dollar bill,
     11   there's a 50 dollar bill, but I wouldn't worry
     12   about that in terms of the price of the combo.
     13   It's such a good deal in terms of the discounted
     14   value already, that I don't -- I wouldn't get too
     15   worried about that.
     16                But I'd also -- I rarely if ever
     17   have seen anybody say that they think that the
     18   price of what they do should go up.  So if
     19   there's not overwhelming support to increase the
     20   pricing, I -- that wouldn't necessarily scare me
     21   off in and of itself, either.
     22                DR. McKINNEY:  There is that factor,
     23   sir.  We will report back to you on what we find.
     24     And appreciate the opportunity to present it.
     25                CHAIRMAN BASS:  How long do you
.0027
      1   think it will be before we hear something back?
      2                DR. McKINNEY:  We're going to put
      3   this in our regular hearings process that we do.
      4   At any time, we can give a report.  But certainly
      5   next meeting we will give you an update on where
      6   we are and on from there.
      7                CHAIRMAN BASS:  I would think this
      8   might be something that one or two targeted
      9   scoping meetings, with both the commercial and
     10   the recreational industry, would potentially be
     11   helpful, too.
     12                DR. McKINNEY:  We'll make sure that
     13   they are aware and can participate.  I believe
     14   that concludes, then, Mr. Chairman.  I'll turn it
     15   over to -- Hal, are you --
     16                MR. OSBURN:  I think Phil is next.
     17                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.
     18                MR. DUROCHER:  Good morning, Mr.
     19   Chairman, commissioners, I'm Phil Durocher, the
     20   director of inland fisheries division.  Spend a
     21   few minutes this morning going over the
     22   recommended changes or the changes that we'd like
     23   to ask the commission to allow us to go to public
     24   hearing with for this year.  Most of these
     25   changes deal with the black basses.  On a
.0028
      1   statewide change that we're recommending, the
      2   current limit on spotted and Guadalupe bass is a
      3   12-inch minimum length limit, five fish, daily
      4   bag, of course this is in combination with other
      5   black basses.
      6                What we're recommending is to change
      7   this to a no minimum length limit and five fish
      8   daily bag.  Justification for this change is --
      9   of course, both of these species remain
     10   relatively small in size.  In a majority of our
     11   waters, these fish never exceed the minimum
     12   length limits of 12 inches.  Because of this
     13   we've got some buildups in some of our lakes of
     14   these populations and it's causing an increase in
     15   competition with other species for the forage.
     16                This change, we believe, would allow
     17   additional harvest, would allow anglers to remove
     18   some of the surplus fish and allow some harvest,
     19   and of course it will reduce the competition for
     20   the forage.
     21                On lake specific changes one
     22   recommendation we have at Lake Jacksonville,
     23   Cleburne State Park, and Meridian State Park, the
     24   current regulation on largemouth bass is a
     25   14-inch minimum length, five fish daily bag.  And
.0029
      1   the staff is recommending that be changed to an
      2   18-inch minimum length limit, five fish daily
      3   bag.
      4                Both of these state parks, Meridian
      5   and Cleburne are relatively small in size, 116
      6   acres and 73 acres.  And we've been working with
      7   the State park staff, our staff has been working
      8   with the State parks to increase the angling
      9   quality in these lakes and hopefully increase
     10   visitation.  Currently the bass populations on
     11   these lakes are relatively low density.  There's
     12   not many bass there for anglers to catch or
     13   harvest.  And we believe the regulation will
     14   protect additional quality size bass from harvest
     15   and allow their populations to build up.
     16                Lake Jacksonville is a little
     17   different situation.  It's a relatively large,
     18   1300-acre reservoir.  Again, though, the bass
     19   above 14 inches are at low density.  And we have
     20   a lot of small bass, especially spotted bass are
     21   abundant in this lake.  And we believe the
     22   removal of the spotted bass length limit will be
     23   beneficial, will help reduce some of the pressure
     24   on the forage and allow the quality of the bass
     25   population to improve in Lake Jacksonville.
.0030
      1                In the Austin area, Lake Austin,
      2   Town Lake and Buescher State Park, the current
      3   regulation on largemouth bass in these waters is
      4   14-inch minimum length limit, five fish daily
      5   bag.  We're looking at a change to a 14- to
      6   21-inch slot limit, five fish daily bag, with
      7   only one bass over 21 inches or greater.
      8   Buescher State Park, again, we've been working
      9   with the State park staff.  It's a relatively
     10   small lake, 25 acres.  It has a fairly good bass
     11   population currently and it's a high-use
     12   situation.  And what this regulation will do is
     13   allow us to maintain the quality fishery, protect
     14   the quality size fish, and allow harvest on the
     15   lower end, so people that are utilizing the lake,
     16   fishing off the bank, the fish below 14 inches,
     17   they'll be allowed to keep five of those.  So we
     18   can increase harvest and still maintain the
     19   quality of the fishery.
     20                Town Lake in Austin is a little
     21   different situation.  It hasn't -- it has an
     22   excellent bass population, which has developed
     23   because of several factors.  Primarily -- the
     24   primary factor has been a fish consumption
     25   advisory which has been in effect on this lake
.0031
      1   for the last four or five years.  And, of course,
      2   it has limited boat access.  No gas motors are
      3   allowed on the reservoir currently.
      4                The consumption advisory has been
      5   lifted.  So harvest is -- the potential for
      6   overharvest and reduction in angling is there.
      7   We saw what was happening on the lake prior to
      8   implementation of the fish consumption advisory
      9   and the fishery has really improved.  And we're
     10   concerned that once this advisory was removed,
     11   that the potential for overharvest is really
     12   going to increase.
     13                Lake Austin, it's a little different
     14   situation.  Lake Austin has produced numerous
     15   ten-pound bass in recent years.  And we ask our
     16   biologists not only to look at the situations
     17   that they currently are with regard to bass
     18   populations, we ask them to look into the future,
     19   try to project what's going to happen and try to
     20   be proactive in their recommendations.
     21                The biologist here was concerned
     22   about the increasing Central Texas population,
     23   could increase the harvest and perhaps affect
     24   that population.  We went out and sought public
     25   input on these recommendations.  Primarily we
.0032
      1   held two public meetings in the two areas where
      2   we felt like it would be the most controversy, at
      3   Jacksonville with regards to Lake Jacksonville
      4   and here in Austin for the Austin proposals.
      5   Only two people showed up at the scoping meeting
      6   we had in Jacksonville.  And they supported the
      7   regulation.
      8                Here in Austin we had 17 people that
      9   attended the meeting of -- seven people spoke and
     10   all of them opposed the regulations.  There was a
     11   lot more opposition in Austin.  And it was
     12   primarily concerns about -- we have a population
     13   that is in good shape and why, why mess with it,
     14   and concerns from some of the bass club people
     15   about the effects this would have on
     16   tournaments.
     17                We -- the staff has received that
     18   input and there were some really good comments
     19   made.  And we're certainly taking that into
     20   advisement and we're asking the Commission to
     21   allow us to go to public hearings and get more
     22   input before we make a decision.  But some of the
     23   comments were really good, and we're taking those
     24   in.
     25                Mr. Sansom also asked that I address
.0033
      1   several other issues while I was here, to give
      2   you a brief status on the study that we're
      3   conducting at Lake Fork.  Of course, you know, we
      4   had one tournament.  And I gave you the report on
      5   the results of that at the last commission
      6   meeting in November.  That tournament was held on
      7   October 9th and 10th.  We don't have any dates
      8   set for the second tournament.  The problem there
      9   now is, the sponsors -- the people that are
     10   putting on the tournaments are having trouble
     11   getting sponsors because of the threats of the
     12   lawsuit.  We have asked the Attorney General to
     13   set up a hearing, which has been set for February
     14   3rd, try to get a summary judgment to get that
     15   lawsuit removed so we can move on.  So we're
     16   going to have that hearing.  And before we get
     17   back together, we'll know more about what's going
     18   to happen.
     19                There's also been some inquiries
     20   from the Commission about what our authority is
     21   with regards to regulating fishing tournaments.
     22   Let me just say that the Commission currently has
     23   no regulatory authority over tournaments.  If it
     24   was the desire of the commission to begin looking
     25   at regulations of fishing tournaments, then
.0034
      1   legislation would be needed.
      2                Let me just say that in 1993 we
      3   introduced a bill to create a no-cost permit for
      4   fishing tournaments.  Our intention at the time
      5   was to gather information on how many tournaments
      6   are being held, potential impact over how many
      7   fish they're catching.  And that bill was
      8   defeated by tournament organizers.  They were
      9   concerned at the time that this was a move by the
     10   agency to begin controlling fishing tournaments.
     11   That was not our intent at the time.  Our intent
     12   was to find a way to gather information to know.
     13   Because right now we don't know how many
     14   tournaments are held, where they're held, how
     15   many people are involved.  We were looking for a
     16   way to gather that information.  But before any
     17   move could be made to regulate or anything on
     18   tournaments, there would have to be some
     19   legislation passed.
     20                And with that, I'd be glad to answer
     21   any questions about the regulation proposals or
     22   any of these other subjects that we've
     23   addressed.
     24                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  What is the
     25   basis of the lawsuit against the sponsors?
.0035
      1                MR. DUROCHER:  It's not against the
      2   sponsors.  It's primarily against the agency.
      3   They're contending that the agency didn't have
      4   the authority to allow these tournaments to take
      5   place under a scientific permit.  And our
      6   contention is, we certainly do have that
      7   authority.  We do it quite regularly.
      8                MR. SANSOM:  The plaintiffs have
      9   also asked to meet with us, you know.  So it's
     10   conceivable that there may be a break even prior
     11   to the February 3rd.
     12                COMMISSIONER AVILA:  But that's just
     13   stating like the Association of Building
     14   Contractors can have a tournament but Texas Parks
     15   & Wildlife cannot?
     16                MR. DUROCHER:  No.  What we do, this
     17   is a scientific study and we have to issue a
     18   scientific permit which allows contestants in
     19   this tournament to do something that everybody
     20   else can't do.  And that's to bring those fish
     21   into the weigh-in so we can measure the impact of
     22   bringing those fish into the weigh-in before they
     23   release them.  So it is a study and we're doing
     24   it under the scientific permit statute.
     25                CHAIRMAN BASS:  In our tournament
.0036
      1   you get to move the tee boxes.
      2                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Do you have
      3   other public hearings scheduled, you mentioned,
      4   for input?
      5                MR. DUROCHER:  Well, we want to
      6   bring these proposals to the public hearing
      7   process.  Yes, we're going to -- we'll bring them
      8   to all of our regular public hearings and then
      9   come back to you in April with a recommendation.
     10   I don't know exactly how many public hearings we
     11   have scheduled.
     12                MR. KURZAWSKI:  Around 15.
     13                MR. DUROCHER:  Around 15, we have
     14   scheduled all over the state.  We're certainly
     15   going to have one here again in Austin.
     16                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  The bottom
     17   line is, unless we can get some legislation to
     18   put us in position to have some authority on
     19   this, you're not going to be able to do very much
     20   with your information.
     21                MR. DUROCHER:  Well, we can educate
     22   people with that information.  And that's what
     23   we're hoping to do.
     24                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  The key really
     25   is whether we're going to give dispensation to
.0037
      1   the tournaments in terms of what they can do and
      2   not do.
      3                MR. DUROCHER:  Right.
      4                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  And the fear
      5   of the people that are opposing it is that that's
      6   going to happen and that that's going to destroy
      7   the fishery.  Is that not the argument?
      8                MR. DUROCHER:  Right.
      9                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  But I still
     10   don't understand why the people that are opposing
     11   it, if they're so sure that it's a bad thing,
     12   don't want to let this study go through and prove
     13   that it's a bad thing.
     14                MR. SANSOM:  That's our argument.
     15                DR. McKINNEY:  You succinctly put
     16   our argument right there.
     17                MR. DUROCHER:  We're not afraid of
     18   good information.
     19                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  We shouldn't
     20   be.  And they shouldn't be either.  Maybe they
     21   figure we weren't going to get good information.
     22                CHAIRMAN BASS:  They might be afraid
     23   of the conspiracies.
     24                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  That we're
     25   going to stack the information or whatever.
.0038
      1                CHAIRMAN BASS:  We're going to cook
      2   the books before we --
      3                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I don't know
      4   why we would really want to regulate
      5   tournaments.  I mean, I think that would be
      6   something -- you don't ever want to get into
      7   that.
      8                MR. DUROCHER:  I'm not saying it
      9   will never be needed but it's certainly not
     10   something that we've spoken about.
     11                COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  If we succeed
     12   in getting a summary judgment from the Attorney
     13   General, then we would not need additional
     14   authority; we could do this under --
     15                MR. DUROCHER:  We would go ahead and
     16   try to complete the study.  We want to complete
     17   the study.
     18                DR. McKINNEY:  Which is a critical
     19   thing, is getting enough information so that
     20   decisions can be made.
     21                MR. DUROCHER:  Yeah.  Our objective
     22   is to get enough information so that if the
     23   legislature decides to take this issue up again,
     24   they will be basing the decision on some good
     25   data.  And we're concerned now -- the time slot
.0039
      1   that we have to gather this information is
      2   shrinking.  So we need to get moving.
      3                CHAIRMAN BASS:  But in the grand
      4   scheme of things, any negative impact -- or
      5   impact on the resource in a reservoir caused by
      6   tournaments that are happening in that resource
      7   just goes into the overall management mix of what
      8   we --
      9                MR. DUROCHER:  Right.  We have no
     10   data to indicate that tournaments have a negative
     11   impact on our resource.  I mean, they're just
     12   fisherman, they're fishing.  And if they're
     13   fishing by the rules that everybody else is
     14   fishing by, there's no indication that that's an
     15   impact.  Now, this is a different situation.
     16                CHAIRMAN BASS:  They want one set of
     17   rules for tournaments and one set of rules for
     18   everyone else the rest of the year.
     19                MR. DUROCHER:  And we don't know
     20   whether this is going to hurt anything or not.
     21   But we need some information.
     22                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Any other questions
     23   of Phil at this time?  We'll hear back from you
     24   in April, I guess.
     25                MR. DUROCHER:  Yes, sir.  Thank
.0040
      1   you.
      2                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.
      3                Okay.  Hal, welcome back and we'll
      4   do coastal.
      5                MR. OSBURN:  Yes, sir.  Mr.
      6   Chairman, commissioners, I'm Hal Osburn.  I'm
      7   division director of coastal fisheries.  I wanted
      8   to brief you on our proposals for statewide
      9   hunting and fishing proclamation.  These
     10   proposals were generated by a request to provide
     11   consistency with the federal rules established by
     12   the National Marine Fisheries Service in federal
     13   waters.  There are benefits of consistency,
     14   increased spawning success, enhanced law
     15   enforcement, reduced angler confusion; however,
     16   we must also assure that those federal rules are
     17   consistent with our Texas management strategies.
     18                First proposals were increases in
     19   the size limits on billfish, been established in
     20   federal waters.  Billfish are a recreational only
     21   species, however, they have been impacted
     22   significantly by by-catch on commercial long
     23   lines which are allowed in federal waters.
     24                Staff proposal is to adopt those
     25   compatible size limits.  That will help billfish
.0041
      1   conservation.  Long-lining in State waters is
      2   prohibited, has been for a number of years, but
      3   we want to help support now the reduction of
      4   long-lining in federal waters.
      5                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Hal, it's my
      6   understanding that the by-catch impact from the
      7   long lines has -- on the bill fish has over time
      8   been rather significant.
      9                MR. OSBURN:  Yes, sir.  And it's
     10   because the long lines are prosecuted for the
     11   whole range of the species, from New Jersey all
     12   the way around to Texas.
     13                CHAIRMAN BASS:  And in waters that
     14   are federally controlled or waters that may be
     15   just, I guess, open water, so to speak.
     16                MR. OSBURN:  Most of all of it is
     17   going to be federally controlled, out to 200
     18   miles.
     19                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Is there any effort
     20   that you're aware of to -- that's imminent to do
     21   anything in that regard?
     22                MR. OSBURN:  Yeah.  Actually there's
     23   two things that are happening.  There is federal
     24   rules proposed right now which would ban
     25   long-lining, pelagic long lines, I believe from
.0042
      1   like March through September in those portions of
      2   waters off Texas, Louisiana, some other areas off
      3   Florida.  Those are proposed right now.  We're
      4   going to go to a public hearing next week and
      5   participate in that.  Those could happen by this
      6   summer.  Kind of in tandem with that was a bill
      7   by Senator John Breaux from Louisiana which also
      8   bans some long-lining in those same areas.  I
      9   think it was just for the summer period.  But it
     10   included a buyback, some monies from the federal
     11   government and some monies from the commercial
     12   industry, long-line industry itself, to actually
     13   buyback some of those long liners.  And they
     14   negotiated a deal with those folks so that they
     15   could actually extract them from the fishery.
     16   Because one of the -- the NMFS proposal doesn't
     17   have a buyback.  And what can happen there is,
     18   the fleet just moves on to another species or
     19   starts fishing in a different way.  And you may
     20   help billfish conservation but now you've got a
     21   problem with something else.  So kind of like
     22   with our limited entry programs and our buyback
     23   that we just talked about, we recognize that you
     24   can't just make a rule on paper, you have to
     25   extract the effort in real terms from the
.0043
      1   fishery.
      2                CHAIRMAN BASS:  And is most of that
      3   industry U.S. based or is a significant part of
      4   it foreign?
      5                MR. OSBURN:  The best I can tell, it
      6   is mostly U.S. based fleet out of Florida, fleet
      7   out of New Orleans.  There's about a dozen or so
      8   long-line vessels out of Texas.  But those
      9   vessels can move -- do move very long ways.  And
     10   they also serve the foreign markets.  So whether
     11   they're owned by the foreign entities is not
     12   always clear, but they certainly serve them.
     13                CHAIRMAN BASS:  And is enough known
     14   about the range of these fish to know that if
     15   they are -- the pressure is relieved in U.S.
     16   waters, that that will -- that that will really
     17   relieve pressure on the population, or will we
     18   simply be saving them to be caught in Mexican or
     19   Canadian waters?
     20                MR. OSBURN:  Certainly they can go
     21   down into Mexico, that would be our concern.  But
     22   I think that the area out to 200 miles in federal
     23   waters would have to have a significant effect.
     24   I think the biology says we would certainly
     25   reduce the overall mortality.  They would spend
.0044
      1   time in Mexico waters, still be subject, but they
      2   would move out during most of their life history.
      3   And as long as there is some place that they
      4   have sanctuary from long-lining, they would
      5   benefit.
      6                CHAIRMAN BASS:  And one last
      7   question.  What's the main target species of
      8   these long-liners today?
      9                MR. OSBURN:  Mostly tuna, tuna
     10   fleets, swordfish, shark.  Those are the three
     11   primary.
     12                CHAIRMAN BASS:  And how healthy are
     13   those populations?
     14                MR. OSBURN:  Unfortunately I'm
     15   getting ready to tell you about some fairly
     16   unhealthy shark populations.  The swordfish are
     17   also in trouble.  The tuna not quite as much.
     18   But all of those reductions in long-lining effort
     19   were designed not just to help billfish
     20   conservation but also for the conservation of
     21   these other species.
     22                CHAIRMAN BASS:  It's hard to find a
     23   restaurant today that doesn't serve tuna.  I've
     24   always wondered where it all comes from.
     25                Okay.  Thank you.  I'm sorry for the
.0045
      1   diversion.
      2                MR. OSBURN:  You bet.  No problem.
      3   As we said, federal rules have also been
      4   established in -- for shark, for the recreational
      5   angler.  It formally was no bag limit, no size
      6   limit.  It is now one Atlantic sharpnose per
      7   person and one other shark over four and a half
      8   feet.
      9                The commercial rules are much more
     10   complicated.  But they can be summarized by
     11   noting that they allow over 5 million pounds of
     12   harvest each year of Gulf shark species.  Once
     13   again, that's taken, much of that, by the
     14   long-line fleet.
     15                Current Texas rules.  One of the
     16   first to establish shark rules in the Gulf, five
     17   shark bag limit, no size limit.  But we do have a
     18   game fish status, which means you can only take
     19   them with a rod and reel.  And those rules apply
     20   to both sport and commercial fishermen.
     21                And because of those restrictions,
     22   we have had very little commercial harvest
     23   through the years, at least legally.  The sport
     24   anglers take about -- one percent of their catch
     25   is sharks.  That's about 25,000 fish a year.
.0046
      1   About half of those are caught in federal
      2   waters.  Atlantic sharpnose shark do dominate the
      3   sport landings.  You also get bonnetheads and
      4   blacktips quite frequently.
      5                And the size of the shark varies
      6   considerably.  Generally the further offshore
      7   that you fish, the larger the shark you're going
      8   to catch.  You note there that about 21 percent
      9   of the sharks are under two feet.
     10                We've had our long-term sport creel
     11   surveys in place coastwide and we have noted that
     12   our Texas anglers are already practicing
     13   conservative shark fishing habits.  About four
     14   out of five successful shark anglers only bring
     15   in one shark per trip.
     16                We do feel like conservation is
     17   going to be needed.  The life history
     18   characteristics of shark make them vulnerable to
     19   overfishing.  We also have noted declining
     20   populations throughout the range, particularly of
     21   the deeper water species that are mostly in
     22   federal waters.  Staff proposal is to decrease
     23   the daily bag limit to one per day per person,
     24   establish a 24-inch minimum size limit.  Also to
     25   prevent a loophole, we're going to close our
.0047
      1   commercial season when the federal waters are
      2   closed.  And once again, we also want to support
      3   the reduction of long-lining in federal waters.
      4   These measures should help rebuild the stocks,
      5   increasing spawning success.  I think our sport
      6   landings are going to decrease by about one-third
      7   with these rules, but we will still have a boat
      8   and a shore-based fishery being allowed.
      9                And because sharks are notoriously
     10   hard to identify, we want to make that one shark
     11   be of any species to reduce the angler
     12   confusion.  That concludes my presentation.  I'd
     13   be happy to answer any questions.
     14                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Hal, let me ask you,
     15   when we first instituted the regulation on sharks
     16   and the limits, et cetera, several years ago,
     17   part of the -- what prompted us was that the
     18   commercial value of sharks or shark fins in
     19   particular was very healthy, primarily from
     20   Oriental or Asian markets, as I recall, to the
     21   extent that there were numerous instances that we
     22   understood of the practice of catching sharks,
     23   cutting the fins off, throwing a temporarily
     24   still live carcass back in the waters and going
     25   on their merry way.
.0048
      1                Since that time the Asian economies
      2   have fallen from their robust levels for quite --
      3   a couple of years now.  Do you have any idea
      4   whether that's impacted the commercial value of
      5   sharks, or is it still holding about the same
      6   commercial value it did --
      7                MR. OSBURN:  There is still a demand
      8   for shark fins.  Unfortunately it's one of those
      9   ceremonial-type dishes that folks will save up
     10   for a long time to make sure they have the right
     11   ingredients for their ceremonial dinner.  Shark
     12   fin soup has meanings that I can't describe.  But
     13   they're -- it's special.  And we still have that
     14   demand.
     15                The rules have been changed in the
     16   federal waters to require that folks retain the
     17   carcass along with X number of fins.  That makes
     18   them less efficient because they have less
     19   holding space.  But it does not prevent them from
     20   still targeting those.  The price has remained
     21   high enough.  The Middle East, Egypt in
     22   particular, also has a desire for some of these
     23   products.  So that's been our concern, that the
     24   price keeps driving fishermen to go out there.
     25   Even when their catch rates go down, their value
.0049
      1   remains high enough to justify their trip.
      2                CHAIRMAN BASS:  So like a recession
      3   in the U.S. provides no relief for turkeys in
      4   November.  Okay.  Thank you.
      5                Any other questions of Hal?  Good
      6   program.  Thank you.
      7                Doctor Graham.
      8                DR. GRAHAM:  Chairman Bass, members
      9   of the committee, I'm Gary Graham, director of
     10   the wildlife division and I've asked Jerry Cooke
     11   to offer the wildlife statewide proposals for you
     12   today.
     13                DR. COOKE:  Mr. Chairman, members,
     14   my name is Jerry Cooke, program director for
     15   upland wildlife ecology.  And I'll be presenting
     16   the specific proposed changes to the statewide
     17   hunting and fishing proclamation from our
     18   division.
     19                Our proposals aside from those that
     20   are specifically identified will also include
     21   some housekeeping changes that I wanted to let
     22   you know would be coming up.  But these are of a
     23   routine matter and mostly for clarification but
     24   in the proclamation.
     25                The eastern wild turkey restoration
.0050
      1   program has been one of the most successful in
      2   Texas, certainly within my career, and is
      3   actually an accomplishment of our field personnel
      4   in the wildlife division as well as the law
      5   enforcement division.  Many private
      6   organizations, including the National Wild Turkey
      7   Federation and the assistance of many states
      8   across the Southeastern United States.
      9                In red on this map you see the 24
     10   counties that are currently open for spring
     11   turkey hunting of eastern wild birds.  This is a
     12   very conservative season.  It opens on a Monday
     13   for 14 consecutive days, includes only one
     14   gobbler per hunter.  Bait is not allowed.  The
     15   only legal means of taking them is by shotgun,
     16   lawful archery equipment, and crossbows.  And
     17   every bird taken has to be taken through a check
     18   station so we get the maximum information from
     19   the harvest.
     20                We would propose to include Camp,
     21   Franklin, Hunt, Morris, Panola, Rains, Shelby,
     22   and Titus Counties to this proposal for the
     23   coming year.
     24                In red on the map are the counties
     25   that currently have four doe days during the
.0051
      1   whitetail deer season.  These seasons begin on --
      2   I mean these four doe days begin on Thanksgiving
      3   day and run through the following Sunday.  And we
      4   would propose to include Cass, Marion, and
      5   Harrison Counties to this regulation in the
      6   coming cycle.
      7                In red on this map are those
      8   counties in Southeast Texas which have a four
      9   deer bag, two bucks and two antlerless and 23 doe
     10   days.  The 23 doe days does not always include
     11   the Thanksgiving weekend and we propose to reword
     12   those doe days to allow it to begin the opening
     13   day of season and continue through the weekend
     14   following Thanksgiving, and to also include San
     15   Jacinto, Trinity, and Walker Counties to this
     16   group of counties.
     17                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Without trying to
     18   figure out on a calendar, that means, at the
     19   minimum it would be at least 23 days.
     20                DR. COOKE:  Currently it is 23
     21   days.
     22                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Right.  But this
     23   shift, making it the Sunday following
     24   Thanksgiving --
     25                DR. COOKE:  In some seasons will
.0052
      1   give it more days.
      2                CHAIRMAN BASS:  And the maximum
      3   number would be -- it's always the third Thursday
      4   plus --
      5                DR. COOKE:  Well, this would be the
      6   Sunday following Thanksgiving each time.  So I
      7   could evaluate some calendars.  I'm sorry I
      8   haven't done that before now.
      9                DR. COOKE:  It would be 26, 27.
     10                CHAIRMAN BASS:  26, 27.
     11                DR. COOKE:  But no less than 23.
     12                On this map the yellow counties are
     13   the ones who currently are within that 23 doe day
     14   compartment with the four deer bag, and it has
     15   been for several years.  In evaluating the
     16   population in those counties, our staff feels
     17   comfortable in providing greater opportunity in
     18   those counties, which would include a muzzle
     19   loader season.
     20                The muzzle loader season would open
     21   the Saturday following the close of the general
     22   season for nine consecutive days.  And the bag
     23   limit in that season would be two antlerless and
     24   two spike, maximum.  The 21 --
     25                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Are those reasonably
.0053
      1   heavily hunted counties?
      2                MR. COOKE:  Traditionally they had
      3   been heavily hunted.  We gauged that primarily by
      4   looking at the age structure of the buck
      5   harvest.  We have not found that percentage of
      6   yearlings in the buck harvest to be substantially
      7   increasing, which is why I feel relatively
      8   confident.  Clearly if you allow spike deer to be
      9   taken during this season, it will place perhaps
     10   more pressure on the younger animals.  But that
     11   regulation is primarily to allow spikes to be
     12   retained when they were taken inadvertently as
     13   antlerless deer.  So in other words, it's not
     14   focusing on spike deer, it's allowing them to be
     15   retained if taken inadvertently.
     16                The 21 counties of the Edwards
     17   Plateau district makes up approximately 12
     18   percent of the state of Texas but includes
     19   approximately 38 percent of the total deer
     20   population in the state of Texas.  These habitats
     21   have, from place to place, shown degradation
     22   because of population levels, and the population
     23   has historically been eruptive at times.
     24                Our proposal for these counties
     25   would be to increase the bag limit by one
.0054
      1   antlerless deer.  That would allow five deer, no
      2   more than two bucks, in those counties, and to
      3   also provide a 14-day antlerless and spike buck
      4   late season to be used at the discretion of the
      5   landowners in those counties.
      6                This proposal, if adopted, would
      7   necessarily remove the muzzle loader stamp
      8   requirement during what is currently a muzzle
      9   loader only season in those counties.  It
     10   wouldn't change opportunity but it would remove
     11   necessarily the requirement for the stamp.
     12                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Approximately how
     13   many of those stamps do we sell?
     14                DR. COOKE:  Approximately a thousand
     15   statewide, aside from the combination license, a
     16   special license.
     17                CHAIRMAN BASS:  So it's a nominal --
     18                MR. COOKE:  It's a nominal effect.
     19                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  Jerry, on that
     20   not to exceed two bucks --
     21                DR. COOKE:  Yes, sir.
     22                COMMISSIONER RYAN:  -- and add
     23   14-day antlerless and spike buck.  But the spike
     24   buck would count as one of your bucks?
     25                DR. COOKE:  It would.  In other
.0055
      1   words, it would not change the bag limit for
      2   bucks and antlerless under the law.  But they
      3   would have to be spikes in that extent of the
      4   season.
      5                CHAIRMAN BASS:  So basically, then,
      6   what you're adding to the bag limit is one doe?
      7                DR. COOKE:  Yes.  And --
      8                CHAIRMAN BASS:  And extending --
      9                DR. COOKE:  And extending the
     10   period --
     11                CHAIRMAN BASS:  -- period --
     12                DR. COOKE:  -- in which they could
     13   be taken.
     14                CHAIRMAN BASS:  -- in which the
     15   antlerless spike could be taken.
     16                DR. COOKE:  Correct.  Currently
     17   under our managed land deer permits we have two
     18   options of permits.  One is the general season
     19   antlerless only permit, which requires very
     20   minimal effort on the landowner, essentially a
     21   current survey and an approved management plan to
     22   obtain.
     23                We also had extended season enhanced
     24   bag MLD permits, which essentially provides
     25   greater flexibility for those landowners whose
.0056
      1   habitat has been substantially improved and
      2   populations substantially under control.
      3                In our scoping meeting efforts we
      4   had identified for us the fact that this is a
      5   pretty broad gulf between these options within
      6   the program.  And several landowners expressed
      7   concern of the difficulty of going from a general
      8   season antlerless permit to the enhanced season
      9   enhanced bag permit option.  To address that, we
     10   would propose an option within the managed land
     11   deer permits for the purpose of population
     12   control.  It would require improved wildlife
     13   management plan which would, for both sexes,
     14   permits would be issued for both sexes,
     15   landowners would have the option of issuing
     16   permits to their hunters to a bag of five deer,
     17   no more than three bucks.  A 14 day special late
     18   season for antlerless and spike deer would be
     19   allowed.  And this would also allow both sexes to
     20   be taken in these -- on these properties using
     21   bonus tags.
     22                CHAIRMAN BASS:  So the $10 bonus tag
     23   could be used for a doe as well as a buck?
     24                DR. COOKE:  As well as -- right.
     25   This would probably have the greatest impact in
.0057
      1   one buck counties, where reducing populations,
      2   where they are explosive is difficult.  And this
      3   would allow greater flexibility for the
      4   landowners and the hunters involved to control
      5   those populations.
      6                COMMISSIONER WATSON:  This is
      7   another option, I mean, to extend the season?
      8                DR. COOKE:  Yes.  We would not
      9   change any aspect of the other options within the
     10   program.
     11                DR. GRAHAM:  It makes it easier for
     12   the landowner transition from the general season
     13   to the season extended back.
     14                DR. COOKE:  We want to maintain that
     15   quality population habitat status of that
     16   permanent option.  And this would allow
     17   landowners to move between those two options
     18   rather seamlessly.
     19                In that small compartment identified
     20   in Henderson County, means of taking game animals
     21   is restricted under current regulations to
     22   shotgun and archery equipment only.  We find no
     23   resource basis for this regulation, and would
     24   propose to allow all legal means to be used
     25   throughout Henderson County.
.0058
      1                In a related deer issue, we have
      2   been asked to look into the trap, transport, and
      3   transplant proclamation on two specific issues.
      4   One is to determine if it would be possible for
      5   us to identify and define what an insignificant
      6   transfer of deer might be and also to see if
      7   there was any way that we could provide greater
      8   flexibility to urban areas for removing deer from
      9   those kinds of situations.  We will investigate
     10   this.  And if we can successfully come up with
     11   some reasonable regulations or what we consider
     12   to be reasonable, we would like to post that for
     13   your consideration in April.
     14                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Right.  By
     15   insignificant transfer, you mean from a
     16   biological point of view?
     17                DR. COOKE:  From a biological
     18   perspective.
     19                CHAIRMAN BASS:  And is the number of
     20   animals that is not going to have any biological
     21   impact on.
     22                DR. COOKE:  Or some density of
     23   release or some change within the relationship of
     24   the population.  There's many ways of looking at
     25   it.  And to be very frank with you, we have not
.0059
      1   investigated them all.  But we wanted to inform
      2   you of this so that you wouldn't be surprised,
      3   come April, if we have something for you to
      4   consider.
      5                To complete the presentations of all
      6   of our divisions to the statewide hunting and
      7   fishing proclamation, we would -- the staff would
      8   recommend the following motion:  The regulation
      9   committee authorizes staff to publish the
     10   proposed 2000-2001 statewide hunting and fishing
     11   proclamation contained in Exhibit A with the
     12   amendments as we presented them to you, in the
     13   Texas Register for public comment.
     14                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  The mule deer
     15   regulations don't come up at this time or you're
     16   not recommending any changes?
     17                DR. COOKE:  We have not had an
     18   opportunity to evaluate whether -- the issue
     19   specifically is, some of the counties in the
     20   Panhandle have shown some interest in perhaps
     21   extending the season over a longer period of
     22   time, and whitetail seasons in those counties
     23   tend to be concurrent with the mule deer
     24   seasons.  And we've been asked to look into that,
     25   also.  But we have not had an opportunity to
.0060
      1   evaluate it sufficiently to include in these
      2   proposals.
      3                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Would that
      4   preclude any changes being made for the next
      5   hunting season or would we still have time to
      6   consider that?
      7                CHAIRMAN BASS:  We would have time.
      8   If we discussed it in April, we could post that
      9   for May and still be --
     10                DR. COOKE:  It would require another
     11   regulatory effort.  Basically the Commission is
     12   somewhat limited in what it can change in a
     13   regulation without publicly posting the intention
     14   of a change in those counties.  So we could do
     15   another cycle if that was found to be important
     16   enough for the Commission to do so.
     17                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Specifically
     18   I've had some people in our part of the country
     19   that have mentioned the need to have a longer --
     20   or the desire to have a longer season in those
     21   counties where the mule deer season was open for
     22   the first time two years ago.  The five-day
     23   season and the timing of it has not been very
     24   conducive to hunter success.
     25                DR. COOKE:  We would have time
.0061
      1   between now and April to consider that.  And the
      2   regulations committee certainly suggests -- since
      3   we have no mule deer proposals in place, I'm not
      4   sure.  I would have to check on the section
      5   arrangement.  You can't reopen a section until
      6   rules goes into place, and those kinds of
      7   things.  But we'll certainly know by April.
      8                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I think some
      9   of our staff people out there think that it ought
     10   to be at least looked at.
     11                CHAIRMAN BASS:  I think one of the
     12   purposes of trying to move the regs cycle earlier
     13   in the year, as we did, is to allow for
     14   opportunities like this, to catch things and
     15   still get them in with enough lead time.
     16                MR. COOK:  If it's possible, if it's
     17   a liberalization under the law, the open sections
     18   and all that, I think we could address it.
     19                MR. SANSOM:  Yes.  As long as it's a
     20   liberalization.
     21                CHAIRMAN BASS:  I understand your
     22   caveats because the code is sometimes Byzantine.
     23                DR. COOKE:  Well, there's also the
     24   caveat of landowners having contracts in place
     25   and we have at times encountered opposition to
.0062
      1   changes primarily because of that.
      2                MR. SANSOM:  With their bookings.
      3                DR. COOKE:  Yes.
      4                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Well, in this case
      5   the time slot that it would be booked for would
      6   still be legal.  It just wouldn't be all the
      7   legal days.  So we wouldn't impose any undue --
      8                DR. COOKE:  We'll certainly, if it's
      9   possible to include for the April consideration,
     10   we will.  And if not, we'll have some options for
     11   you.
     12                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Jerry, before we
     13   have a motion, can we go back to the Edwards
     14   Plateau liberalization proposal for a moment?  My
     15   question is, basically what we're proposing is to
     16   provide a late antlerless and spike window of 14
     17   days and add to the bag limit what in effect is
     18   one doe.
     19                DR. COOKE:  Right.
     20                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Now, in that area of
     21   the state, as you pointed out, it's a very high
     22   deer density and a high reproductive rate
     23   regime.  Is there a reason that the
     24   liberalization, the bag limit is restrictive --
     25   obviously there is.  I just wanted to ask you,
.0063
      1   what is the rationale for the liberalization of
      2   bag limit to be restricted to only the doe
      3   segment of the population, where generally it's
      4   overpopulated.
      5                DR. COOKE:  That's correct.
      6   However, while you could take out fire ants with
      7   an atomic blast, that's pretty hard sometimes.
      8   Certainly we wouldn't want to disrupt things that
      9   are in good condition in the population in an
     10   effort to reduce the overall population.  There
     11   are counties in the Edwards Plateau that have a
     12   well enough developed age structure in the buck
     13   harvest that it probably could include an
     14   additional buck in that bag.  And some of those
     15   counties having been identified.  However, the
     16   proposal, because of the short turnaround nature,
     17   was to focus on specifically increasing harvest
     18   on the antlerless segment, with the option to
     19   consider other things at later times.
     20                CHAIRMAN BASS:  And with the various
     21   MLD permits, et cetera, the people that -- can
     22   still get a three buck bag limit through
     23   participating in those programs?
     24                DR. COOKE:  Exactly.  The MLD
     25   program is to take a general population condition
.0064
      1   and identify exceptions within it.  And when
      2   those exceptions become common, then you change
      3   the general bag in the county.  This is an issue
      4   that is general throughout most of the Edwards
      5   Plateau, the need to reduce overall population.
      6   Individuals who are doing higher levels of
      7   management within their properties are generally
      8   in the managed land deer permit program and can
      9   exploit those options there.
     10                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Any other
     11   questions?  The chair would entertain a motion to
     12   approve this package to continue.
     13                DR. COOKE:  This is a motion to
     14   publish.  So there would be no action tomorrow on
     15   this.
     16                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Motion to publish.
     17                COMMISSIONER AVILA:  So moved.
     18                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Motion is seconded.
     19   All in favor?  Opposed?
     20                (Motion passed unanimously.)
     21                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Publish away.
     22      AGENDA ITEM NO. 3:   ACTION - PROPOSED FINFISH
     23      LICENSE LIMITATION PROGRAM.
     24                MR. HAMMERSCHMIDT:  Mr. Chairman,
     25   commissioners, my name is Paul Hammerschmidt,
.0065
      1   program director for the coastal fisheries
      2   division.  My briefing to you today will cover
      3   staff's proposals to fulfill legislative mandate
      4   to implement a licensed management program for
      5   the commercial finfish fishery in Texas.  The
      6   76th Legislature under Senate Bill 1303 granted
      7   the Parks and Wildlife Commission this authority.
      8                As with the crab license management
      9   program, that for finfish will encompass three
     10   different proclamations.  First, we will create a
     11   new finfish license management program
     12   proclamation.  Second, license and transfer fees
     13   will be proposed in the finance proclamation, and
     14   finally, amendments to the statewide hunting and
     15   fishing proclamation will be proposed.
     16                Before I get to the staff's
     17   proposals, I would like to provide you a brief
     18   review of the authorizing legislation.  Since
     19   it's spelled out, certain key elements of the
     20   licensed management program and our proposals
     21   hinge from them.  First is eligibility.
     22   Individuals who held a commercial finfish
     23   fisherman's license from September 1, 1997, to
     24   April 20th, 1999, will automatically be eligible
     25   for the new license.  Staff currently estimates
.0066
      1   this will be about 970 people.
      2                For those individuals who are not
      3   automatically eligible, a review board will be
      4   elected to review these cases.  The board will be
      5   made up of eligible finfishermen who are elected
      6   by their peers and it will reflect the
      7   geographical distribution of the industry.  The
      8   review board will make recommendations concerning
      9   the administration of the program and will
     10   include the appeals cases.
     11                Finally, just as an overview, the
     12   bill set forth a list of flagrant violations
     13   that, based on a scale of escalating or
     14   repetitive violations could result in license
     15   suspension or revocation, as you can see those on
     16   the screen.
     17                Now to our proclamations.  The
     18   proposed new finfish license management
     19   proclamation incorporates rules which delegate
     20   administrative authority to the executive
     21   director, establish rules for the display of the
     22   license plate on a vessel, set the date -- sets
     23   the date of transferability of licenses to any
     24   time beginning September 1, 2000.  And it lays
     25   out the framework of a license buyback process.
.0067
      1                The proposed license buyback
      2   procedures are similar to those that we have for
      3   the crab fishery.  A buyback fund will receive 20
      4   percent of all finfish license and transfer
      5   fees.  The proclamation will describe
      6   administrative procedures for the buyback
      7   program.
      8                Staff will subsequently develop
      9   criteria to select and purchase licenses that are
     10   voluntarily offered.  And all licenses purchased
     11   under the buyback procedure will be retired.
     12                The cost for the new finfish
     13   fishermen's license and transfer fees are $300
     14   for resident, $1200 for nonresident.
     15                Now, at the printing of your
     16   briefing book, the revenue codes were not
     17   available.  They are available now, and I will
     18   incorporate those into the finance proclamation
     19   pending approval of the committee.
     20                As with the other licensed
     21   management programs, some amendments to the
     22   statewide hunting and fishing proclamation are
     23   necessary.  And in order to maintain continuity
     24   with the suite of finfish license management
     25   proposals, I've included those here rather than
.0068
      1   during the earlier proposal for the statewide.
      2                The proposed amendments to the
      3   statewide establish specific trotline and crab
      4   trap marking requirements that will facilitate
      5   gear identification for both fishermen and law
      6   enforcement.  Because Senate Bill 1303 allows
      7   persons holding a new finfish fishermen's license
      8   to operate up to 20 crab traps to catch crabs for
      9   bait, staff proposes these traps be uniquely
     10   marked to identify them as belonging to
     11   commercial finfish fishermen rather than a
     12   commercial crab fisherman and to distinguish crab
     13   trap floats from trotline floats.
     14                Current gear designs and
     15   restrictions for both trotlines and crab traps
     16   will remain as they currently are.  If approved
     17   by the committee, these proposals will be rolled
     18   into the total statewide proclamation package
     19   presented earlier and will be sent to the Texas
     20   Register and presented at public hearings.
     21                I will be happy to answer any
     22   questions if there are any.
     23                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Any questions or
     24   comments?
     25                MR. HAMMERSCHMIDT:  If there are
.0069
      1   none, I would like to -- the staff would
      2   recommend that the committee adopt the following
      3   motion:  The regulations committee of the Texas
      4   Parks & Wildlife Commission authorizes staff to
      5   publish the proposed regulation changes in the
      6   Texas Register for the required 30-day public
      7   comment period and hold public hearings.
      8                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Do we have any
      9   reason to expect anything other than broad-based
     10   support from the industry?
     11                MR. HAMMERSCHMIDT:  No, sir.  All of
     12   these issues were brought up prior to the
     13   legislation where our staff worked very closely
     14   with the constituents in the commercial fishery
     15   to develop these criteria themselves.  So these
     16   should be absolutely nothing new to them.
     17                MR. OSBURN:  That's not to say that
     18   there won't be some folks come out of the
     19   woodwork and wonder why they got left out of a
     20   two-year process.  But we have the review board
     21   and the appeals process to offer them in that
     22   case.
     23                COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Move
     24   approval.
     25                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Second.
.0070
      1                CHAIRMAN BASS:  The motion is
      2   seconded.  All in favor?  All opposed?
      3                (Motion passed unanimously.)
      4                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.
      5                Public lands proclamation.
      6      AGENDA ITEM NO. 4:  ACTION - PUBLIC LANDS
      7      PROCLAMATION.
      8                DR. GRAHAM:  Mr. Chairman, members
      9   of the committee, again, I'm Gary Graham,
     10   director of the wildlife division and I've asked
     11   Herb Kothmann to present the public lands
     12   proclamation recommendations.
     13                MR. KOTHMANN:  I'm Herb Kothmann,
     14   director of public hunts, I'll be presenting an
     15   item on proposed changes of the public lands
     16   proclamation and also our proposals for public
     17   hunts on state parks for the 2000-2001 season.
     18                The first proposal that we have
     19   would lower the minimum age requirement for an
     20   adult supervising a youth engaged in public
     21   hunting activities, from 21 to 18.  We're advised
     22   by legal staff that an 18-year-old is equally
     23   able to assume legal responsibility for a minor
     24   as a 21-year-old.  And this would be consistent
     25   with what the federal refugees in Texas currently
.0071
      1   are allowing to supervise a youth.  We will be
      2   proposing -- allowing an 18-year-old to supervise
      3   a 16-year-old.
      4                The second proposal would be to
      5   establish an antlerless deer permit for use on
      6   the U.S. Forest Service areas where hunting is
      7   managed by Parks and Wildlife.  This would allow
      8   the antlerless deer to be taken, a limited number
      9   of antlerless deer, during the general season.
     10   It would create additional hunter opportunity by
     11   allowing that opportunity to take those deer.
     12   The permit would be issued by the U.S. Forest
     13   Service rather than Parks & Wildlife staff; and
     14   therefore, would place no additional burden upon
     15   our manpower requirements.
     16                Another proposal would be to waive
     17   the regular permit fees.  This is a daily permit
     18   for activities other than hunting and fishing for
     19   people who hold an annual public hunting permit,
     20   a limited public use permit, or one of the two
     21   Texas conservation passport permits.  This
     22   proposal would establish equity in access permit
     23   requirements for both consumptive and
     24   nonconsumptive users.  Presently we do waive
     25   these fees for consumptive users.  This proposal
.0072
      1   would extend that to the nonconsumptive users
      2   also.
      3                Another proposal would prohibit the
      4   distribution or removal of wood, rock, gravel,
      5   sand, soil, or shell from public hunting lands,
      6   except as authorized by the department.  This is
      7   proposed in order to address a problem that we
      8   encountered within the past year when we had soil
      9   removed without our authorization from one of our
     10   lands and found out our rules prohibiting that
     11   removal of soil were somewhat lacking for
     12   enforcement purposes.
     13                Another proposal would authorize
     14   holders of an annual public hunting permit,
     15   limited public use permit, or one of the two
     16   Texas conservation passport permits to use public
     17   hunting lands to access adjacent public waters,
     18   and to fish in adjacent public waters from the
     19   bank of those public hunting lands.  Presently we
     20   are quite more restrictive than this.  We require
     21   a person fishing from our bank in adjacent public
     22   waters to have the full $40 annual permit,
     23   whereas we allow people coming down those public
     24   waters to get out and stand on our bank and fish
     25   without either type of permit.  Then they get
.0073
      1   back in their boat and get underway.  This would
      2   at least allow our permit holders equal
      3   privileges to what we allow the people who come
      4   down those public waters in watercraft and go on
      5   their way.
      6                Proposals for state park hunts for
      7   year 2000-2001.  At this time we're proposing
      8   again 42 parks to be hunted, the same number we
      9   had this past season.  They would be the same
     10   parks with the exception that we would have
     11   Dinosaur Valley dropping out and South Llano
     12   River returning to the list.  Okay.
     13                New types of hunts proposed for
     14   parks is on Arroyo Colorado, a youth deer
     15   antlerless hunt; Fort Boggy, gun, deer, either
     16   sex, and gun feral hog hunts; Lake Whitney, gun,
     17   deer, either sex; Resaca de la Palma, youth,
     18   quail.
     19                And we have a two-part proposal.
     20   Staff recommends the regulations committee would
     21   adopt the following two motions:  One is that the
     22   regulations committee authorize the staff to
     23   publish the proposed amendments to 31 TAC 65.192,
     24   concerning the public lands proclamation in the
     25   Texas Register for public comment.
.0074
      1                The second part, the regulations
      2   committee authorizes the staff to solicit public
      3   comment concerning the hunting activities
      4   proposed for units of the state park system
      5   that's contained in Exhibit B.
      6                Do you have any questions?
      7                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Any questions or
      8   comments?  The Chair would entertain a motion to
      9   approve the staff recommended motions, both parts
     10   one and two.
     11                COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Motion.
     12                COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Second.
     13                CHAIRMAN BASS:  I have a motion and
     14   a second.  All in favor?
     15                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Any opposed?  Thank
     16   you very much.
     17                (Motion passed unanimously.)
     18                CHAIRMAN BASS:  At this time we'll
     19   stand in recess of the public portion of our
     20   committee meetings.
     21                I would like to announce that
     22   pursuant to the requirements of Chapter 551
     23   referred to as the Open Meetings Law, executive
     24   session will be held prior to reconvening in
     25   public session for infrastructure, for finance,
.0075
      1   and for outreach committee meetings.  And we will
      2   see you folks in an hour or so.
      3                     *-*-*-*-*
      4                (HEARING ADJOURNED.)
      5
      6
      7
      8
      9
     10
     11
     12
     13
     14
     15
     16
     17
     18
     19
     20
     21
     22
     23
     24
     25
.0076
      1                REPORTER'S CERTIFICATE
      2   STATE OF TEXAS   )
      3   COUNTY OF TRAVIS )
      4
      5        I, MELODY RENEE DeYOUNG, a Certified Court
      6   Reporter in and for the State of Texas, do hereby
      7   certify that the above and foregoing 74 pages
      8   constitute a full, true and correct transcript of
      9   the minutes of the Texas Parks and Wildlife
     10   Commission on JANUARY 19, 2000, in the commission
     11   hearing room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife
     12   Headquarters Complex, Austin, Travis County,
     13   Texas.
     14        I FURTHER CERTIFY that a stenographic record
     15   was made by me a the time of the public meeting
     16   and said stenographic notes were thereafter
     17   reduced to computerized transcription under my
     18   supervision and control.
     19        WITNESS MY HAND this the 18TH day of
     20   FEBRUARY 2000.
     21
     22
                 MELODY RENEE DeYOUNG, RPR, CSR NO. 3226
     23          Expiration Date:  12-31-00
                 3101 Bee Caves Road
     24          Centre II, Suite 220
                 Austin, Texas  78746
     25          (512) 328-5557
          EBS NO. 37595

Back to Top
Back to Top