Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Annual Public Hearing

August 30, 2000

Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744
                                                        1
 
  
           7           BE IT REMEMBERED that heretofore on the
 
           8       30th day of August, 2000, there came on to be
 
           9       heard matters under the regulatory authority of
 
          10       the Parks and Wildlife Commission of Texas, in
 
          11       the Commission Hearing Room of the Texas Parks
 
          12       and Wildlife Headquarters Complex, Austin,
 
          13       Texas, beginning at 1:46 p.m. to wit:
 
          14
 
          15
                   APPEARANCES:
          16       THE PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:
                   Chairman:     Lee M. Bass
          17                     Ernest Angelo, Jr.
                                 Carol E. Dinkins
          18                     Dick W. Heath
                                 Nolan Ryan
          19                     John Avila, Jr.
                                 Alvin L. Henry
          20                     Katharine Armstrong Idsal
                                 Mark E. Watson, Jr.
          21
                   THE PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:
          22       Andrew H. Sansom, Executive Director, and other
                   personnel of the Parks and Wildlife Department
          23
 
          24
 
          25
 
 
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           1                     AUGUST 30, 2000
 
           2
 
           3                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Good afternoon.  I'd
 
           4       like to apologize for starting this session
 
           5       slightly later than -- than scheduled.  Afraid
 
           6       we were -- got running behind from this morning
 
           7       and have yet to catch up.
 
           8            Mr. Sansom, would you read our opening
 
           9       statement, please.
 
          10                 MR. SANSOM:  Mr. Chairman, members, a
 
          11       public notice of this meeting and all items on
 
          12       the proposed agenda has been filed in the
 
          13       office of the Secretary of State as required by
 
          14       Chapter 551 of the Government Code.  This is
 
          15       referred to as the Open Meetings Law, and I
 
          16       would like for the action to be noted in the
 
          17       official record of the meeting.
 
          18            Ladies and gentlemen, we welcome all of
 
          19       you here today.  As you know, this is our
 
          20       annual public meeting in which you are free to
 
          21       appear before the Commission and speak on any
 
          22       subject related to Parks and Wildlife that
 
          23       concerns you and we're very, very anxious to
 
          24       hear your comments and -- and pleased that you
 
          25       have taken the time to be with us today.  The
 
 
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           1       Chairman, Mr. Bass, is in charge of the meeting
 
           2       and I, as usual, will be kind of assisting him
 
           3       as sergeant at arms.  I want to make sure to
 
           4       everyone understands that we've got sign-up
 
           5       cards out front, and if you want to speak, you
 
           6       will have had to have signed a sign-up card
 
           7       because he will call the names from those cards
 
           8       one at a time.
 
           9            Each person will be allowed to speak from
 
          10       the podium here before me, and when name is
 
          11       called, please come forward, state your name,
 
          12       who you represent, if someone other than
 
          13       yourself.
 
          14            In order to move the meeting along, I'm
 
          15       certain that the Chairman will also probably
 
          16       call the next person in line, and if you would
 
          17       come to the back of the room so that you can
 
          18       move quickly, then that will be considerate of
 
          19       other people and move it along.
 
          20            Each person who will -- who wants to
 
          21       address the Commission today will have three
 
          22       minutes to speak, and I will keep time using
 
          23       this traffic clock, which will notify you when
 
          24       the light turns yellow that your three minutes
 
          25       are about to be up, but when it's red, your
 
 
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           1       time is up, and I would ask that you resume
 
           2       your seat so that others may speak.
 
           3            If a Commissioner asks you a question,
 
           4       that will not count against you.  Your time may
 
           5       be extended if you are questioned.  If they
 
           6       discuss something along themselves, that time
 
           7       will be not be counted against you either.
 
           8            I ask that you be courteous to the other
 
           9       members of the audience, to our staff, and to
 
          10       the members of the Commission.  We don't
 
          11       tolerate here statements that are strictly
 
          12       argumentative or critical of others.  We want
 
          13       you to stay on the subject.  We know it's an
 
          14       issue that is concern to you, otherwise you
 
          15       wouldn't be here.
 
          16            If you have items that you would -- have
 
          17       in writing that you would like to add to the
 
          18       record, please give them to Ms. Estrada here on
 
          19       my right and she will distribute them to the
 
          20       Commission.
 
          21            Once again, welcome to our annual public
 
          22       meeting and thank you-all for coming and we
 
          23       look forward to hearing your comments today.
 
          24                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you,
 
          25       Mr. Sansom.  As -- As Andy pointed out, we'll
 
 
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           1       ask each of you to limit your comments to three
 
           2       minutes.  If you can do it in less time than
 
           3       that, that's -- that's obviously, I think,
 
           4       going to be in all of our -- our benefit.  If
 
           5       everyone uses three minutes, we're going to be
 
           6       here till 6:30 or seven o'clock because that's
 
           7       how many people have signed up.  And somebody's
 
           8       going to be first and someone's going to be
 
           9       last, and that's just -- that's just the way it
 
          10       is, and I apologize to whoever ends up being
 
          11       last, but it's -- it's going to be luck of the
 
          12       draw.
 
          13            And now, I would also ask that if any of
 
          14       you have cell phones, would you please turn
 
          15       them off because it is disruptive to have them
 
          16       ringing during the -- during the hearings, and
 
          17       we don't need any things to -- to distract us
 
          18       from trying to keep the flow going.  We do want
 
          19       to hear what everyone has to say.  We
 
          20       appreciate people coming in here today and
 
          21       being willing to talk to us about things that
 
          22       are -- that are on their mind.
 
          23            And with that said, I'm going get -- get
 
          24       things going and just grab some names and --
 
          25       and off we'll go, and please -- please be as
 
 
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           1       expedient as possible when you're the next
 
           2       speaker of approaching the microphone.
 
           3            And I will also ask that, you know,
 
           4       this -- this is not a -- a game show or a TV
 
           5       show, so there's no need for applause, booing,
 
           6       audience participation.  We're here to hear
 
           7       what everyone has to say, and if you agree with
 
           8       it, you'll have an opportunity to say so when
 
           9       you have your time to speak.  If you disagree
 
          10       with it, you'll have the same opportunity, so
 
          11       you know, we -- we don't need to cheering
 
          12       sections or -- or any of that.
 
          13            First person I'd like to call is Bill West
 
          14       from the Guadalupe -- Guadalupe Blanco River
 
          15       Authority and ask Jerry Norris to be prepared
 
          16       to speak next.
 
          17                 MR. WEST:  Mr. Chairman, members of
 
          18       the Commission, thank you very much for the
 
          19       opportunity to address you today.  I'm Bill
 
          20       West from the Guadalupe Blanco River
 
          21       Authority.  I have three quick comments that I
 
          22       would like to make, one associated with aquatic
 
          23       vegetation management, the second associated
 
          24       with a Senate Bill 1 planning process, and then
 
          25       the third possibility of some joint projects
 
 
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           1       between GBRA and -- and the Commission.
 
           2            First, in terms of aquatic vegetation
 
           3       management, I know that is not a new topic for
 
           4       you.  GBRA has -- has participated in the
 
           5       development of the guidance document and
 
           6       proposed rules, and I want to thank the
 
           7       Commission and staff for their efforts.  We
 
           8       understand and in the process that the staff
 
           9       will be available to review our respective
 
          10       plans and approve those plans, but I would
 
          11       simply like to request that the motr and
 
          12       Wildlife stay in the business with those of us
 
          13       that deal with that on a daily basis.  Texas
 
          14       motr and Wildlife have the staff and the
 
          15       expertise to deal with this issue, and the
 
          16       river authorities and other water districts
 
          17       need that partnership to continue that effort.
 

          18       We cannot do it alone and do it by ourself.
 
          19            We realize that there is a funding issue
 
          20       and we realize that the next coming legislative
 
          21       session that that will be an issue and we will
 
          22       be there to help see that additional funds will
 
          23       be available for motr and Wildlife and
 
          24       associated with this effort.
 
          25            Another point there with aquatic
 
 
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           1       vegetation management, the liability cap
 
           2       associated with that arena remains to be an
 
           3       issue.
 
           4            Second point is that of Senate Bill 1
 
           5       planning process.  Parks and Wildlife have had
 
           6       representatives participating in each of the 16
 
           7       plans that have been developed across the state
 
           8       that will be folded into one state water plan
 
           9       and now that that planning process has been
 
          10       completed and the plans will be put together
 
          11       for the final state plan, those of us involved
 
          12       in implementation of those plans will begin our
 
          13       work and I would simply request that as we
 
          14       start the work of implementation of some of
 
          15       those options in the Senate Bill 1 planning
 
          16       process that the motr and Wildlife staff be
 
          17       there at the table to assist us as we work on
 
          18       those projects to develop water supplies for
 
          19       the state.  Many of those options along the
 
          20       Texas Gulf Coast will be associated with
 
          21       in-stream flows and bay and estuary issues, and
 
          22       we request that the motr and Wildlife staff be
 
          23       there with us working on those projects as we
 
          24       try to bring those to fruition.
 
          25                 MR. SANSOM:  Thank you, Mr. West.
 
 
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           1                 MR. WEST:  The third -- Is that the
 
           2       time?  I'm sorry.
 
           3            Thank you.
 
           4                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Jerry Norris.
 
           5            And John Jefferson, if you'd be prepared
 
           6       to speak next.
 
           7            Thank you, Mr. West.
 
           8                 MR. NORRIS:  Hello.  My name is
 
           9       Jerry Norris and I live in Port Arthur, Texas,
 
          10       and I thank the Commission for the opportunity
 
          11       to bring a very important issue of conservation
 
          12       before you today.  Sabine Lake is a
 
          13       saltwater-bordered lake with Louisiana.  We
 
          14       have a reciprocal license agreement that allows
 
          15       fishermen from both states to fish each state's
 
          16       waters.  The agreement is a licensing
 
          17       agreement, not a size and bag limit agreement.
 
          18       In the State of Texas, we have bag limits on
 
          19       trout, redfish, and flounder that differ
 
          20       greatly from Louisiana.  We have limits that
 
          21       are based on biological data gathered by the
 
          22       Texas motr and Wildlife that are more
 
          23       conservative than Louisiana.  For example,
 
          24       Louisiana has speckled trout limit of 25 fish,
 
          25       12 inches.  Texas bag limits are 10 fish,
 
 
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           1       15 inches.  Based on data, Texas set the limit
 
           2       to trout to help establish a healthy population
 
           3       that will have recruitment from year to year.
 
           4       This has worked all along the Texas coast in
 
           5       every bay system.
 
           6            The problems on Sabine Lake are as
 
           7       follows:  A fisherman can leave Texas docks and
 
           8       go anywhere in Sabine System, Texas or
 
           9       Louisiana and fish, then return to a Texas dock
 
          10       with fish that do not meet Texas size and bag
 
          11       limits, but are legal in Louisiana.  Texas
 
          12       wardens cannot always establish if the fish
 
          13       were caught in Texas or Louisiana, so the
 
          14       benefit of the doubt is given to the
 
          15       fishermen.  The fish may or may not have been
 
          16       caught in Louisiana, and many times are not,
 
          17       but the wardens have to see the actual
 
          18       violation has it occurs.  This is a monumental
 
          19       task given the large areas they have to cover.
 
          20            What we're experiencing now, fishermen are
 
          21       catching and keeping more trout that do not
 
          22       meet Texas regulations.  With this in mind, I
 
          23       would like to remind everyone that Texas has
 
          24       been the undisputed leader in conservation.  I
 
          25       would hope that we can continue to be the
 
 
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           1       leader.
 
           2            I'm here today with the solution to this
 
           3       problem on Sabine.  And the reason I am here is
 
           4       in an effort of conservation of our state's
 
           5       resources.  I have a petition with me with 600
 
           6       names on it of individuals who are
 
           7       conservation-minded fishermen who fish in
 
           8       Sabine and are concerned about the fish
 
           9       stocks.  These people that have signed this
 
          10       petition are in favor of the following
 
          11       petition.  The petition reads as follows, and I
 
          12       would at this time like to submit this into the
 
          13       record.  We the undersigned do hereby petition
 
          14       the State of Texas, Texas Parks and Wildlife to
 
          15       write into law that all Speckletrout, flounder,
 
          16       and
 
          17       Red drum that are landed in the counties of
 
          18       Jefferson and Orange of the state of Texas are
 
          19       to be within the size and bag limits of the
 
          20       State of Texas.  The reasons for this are to
 
          21       allow juvenile fish of these three species to
 
          22       be allowed the ability to spawn and reproduce
 
          23       before removal by fishermen.  Based on
 
          24       biological data fish that do not meet Texas
 
          25       regulations are not allowed to reproduce in a
 
 
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           1       manner that would allow for a viable resource.
 
           2       Also, law enforcement efforts will be greatly
 
           3       enhanced by the new laws and will allow
 
           4       officers to enforce Texas size and big limits.
 
           5            And also I have some packets for each
 
           6       one --
 
           7                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  If you'd just leave
 
           8       them with the -- Ms. Estrada there at the
 
           9       desk.  I appreciate it.  Thank you very much.
 
          10       John Jefferson and Dave Moldal are -- if you'd
 
          11       be prepared to speak next.
 
          12                 MR. JEFFERSON:  Thank you,
 
          13       Mr. Chairman, Members of the Commission.  I'm
 
          14       John Jefferson.  I'm an outdoor writer.  And
 
          15       with dove season opening Friday, let me be the
 
          16       first to wish you happy new year.  Ms. Estrada
 
          17       is distributing some pictures that I'd like for
 
          18       you-all to see.  They're photographs of
 
          19       eight-year-old Sarah Smith from Rockport,
 
          20       Texas.  She's a lifetime hunting and fishing
 
          21       license member winner.  She won the license
 
          22       through the Wildlife Expo Poster contest last
 
          23       year.  It's been my privilege for the last,
 
          24       well, for other eight of the last nine years to
 
          25       be one of the judges for the poster, essay, and
 
 
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           1       poetry contest.  The Outdoor Writers'
 
           2       Association with Texas has judged this contest
 
           3       and we saw several things that's kind of
 
           4       concerned us.  One, it looked like teachers
 
           5       were using this just as a time filler at the
 
           6       end of school and we would get literally 30
 
           7       entries from one class from kids who may or may
 
           8       not have any interest at all in winning such a
 
           9       license, and a lot of times their entries
 
          10       reflected it.  This took up a lot of our
 
          11       judging time.  We have a panel of 8 or 9 judges
 
          12       and it took us eight or nine hours to judge all
 
          13       those.  We also realize that the publicity of
 
          14       the contest didn't reach sportsman's group,
 
          15       conservation groups, 4-H clubs, Boy Scouts,
 
          16       Girl Scouts, groups that might have people who
 
          17       were really interested in winning such a
 
          18       license.
 
          19            We discussed this with the staff and some
 
          20       changes were made and publicity was improved
 
          21       and the -- the rules were changed, and overall,
 
          22       we felt that the entries recently have
 
          23       reflected that we are getting applications from
 
          24       kids who are interested in the contest and not
 
          25       just because their teacher said they had to
 
 
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           1       complete a project.
 
           2            Before these, the applications were
 
           3       prepared this year, though the rules were
 
           4       changed.  A question came up about whether to
 
           5       continue giving the lifetime hunting and
 
           6       fishing license.  I opposed eliminating that as
 
           7       one of the prizes because I felt like this
 
           8       would be viewed as the Commission and
 
           9       Wildlife Expo backing away from support of
 
          10       hunting and fishing.  I felt that the hunters
 
          11       and fishermen and the outdoor press would
 
          12       oppose this, and the contacts that the
 
          13       Commission received after the prize was
 
          14       eliminated pretty much support that.  And I
 
          15       also felt that increased interest in the number
 
          16       of kids who really wanted this was improving.
 
          17       So I hope that next year the license will again
 
          18       be offered unequivocally.  It's offered this
 
          19       year, I understand, after the contacts from the
 
          20       press as an alternative prize.  I hope you'll
 
          21       offer it unequivocally.
 
          22            Sarah Smith that you're looking at there
 
          23       is one of the recipients who does appreciate
 
          24       it.  She doesn't just appreciate it, believe
 
          25       me, she cherishes it.  When we started out on
 
 
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           1       the boat the day I took the picture, she asked
 
           2       her father, Daddy, will a game warden check us
 
           3       so I can show him my license?  And I think
 
           4       it's -- it started her down a path that could
 
           5       well lead her to becoming one of the --
 
           6                 MR. SANSOM:  Thank you,
 
           7       Mr. Jefferson.
 
           8                 MR. JEFFERSON:  Thank you.
 
           9                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Excuse me.  Dave
 
          10       Moldal and Stephen Labuda, Jr., if you'll be
 
          11       prepared to speak next.
 
          12                 MR. MOLDAL:  Chairman Bass,
 
          13       Commissioners my name is Dave Moldal.  I
 
          14       represent the Gulf States Regional Office of
 
          15       the National Wildlife Federation.  We're the
 
          16       nation's largest member support conservation
 
          17       organization with more than 4 million members
 
          18       nationwide, some 46,000 here in Texas.  I'm
 
          19       here today to call attention to the issue that
 
          20       my pose the single greatest threat to fish and
 
          21       wildlife in Texas over the next 50 years.
 
          22       That's the availability of water.  As leaders
 
          23       of the state agency responsible for the
 
          24       management and conservation of the natural and
 
          25       cultural resources of Texas you know better
 
 
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           1       than anyone the degree to which the survival of
 
           2       our fish and wildlife species depends on
 
           3       healthy terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
 
           4            As our state population grows to an
 
           5       estimated 40 million people by 2050, the
 
           6       pressure on our water resources will increase
 
           7       to the point where species, habitat, and entire
 
           8       ecosystems will be at risk.
 
           9            The Texas legislature recognized the need
 
          10       for long-term water planning in 1997 when they
 
          11       enacted Senate Bill 1.  At this point, 16
 
          12       regional planning bodies appointed by the Texas
 
          13       Water Development Board under Senate Bill 1
 
          14       have released for public comment draft regional
 
          15       plans to meet regional water needs through
 
          16       2050.
 
          17            Though Senate Bill 1 requires that water
 
          18       plans make appropriate provision for
 
          19       environmental water needs and for the effect of
 
          20       upstream development on the bays and estuaries
 
          21       and arms of the Gulf of Mexico, we are deeply
 
          22       concerned that they do not -- that they not do
 
          23       so in any meaningful fashion.  In some draft
 
          24       plans, there is no evidence that environmental
 
          25       water needs have even been considered let alone
 
 
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           1       provided for.  We have attended meetings at
 
           2       which citizens were told that Texas motr and
 
           3       Wildlife and the Texas Water Development Board
 
           4       would take care of these issues.
 
           5            We are aware that the Texas Parks and
 
           6       Wildlife Department staff will comment on the
 
           7       regional water plans this fall and we hope
 
           8       those comments will send a clear message that a
 
           9       failure to plan for meeting the water needs of
 
          10       fish and wildlife resources is unacceptable.
 
          11            Environmental water needs are not well
 
          12       understood by the general public and may not be
 
          13       a priority for planners concerned about meeting
 
          14       long-term human consumptive needs, but they
 
          15       cannot be ignored.  If the 50-year state water
 
          16       plan does not provide for the water needs of
 
          17       the environment, Texans will lose not just
 
          18       wildlife and habitat, but significant
 
          19       recreational and economic opportunities as
 
          20       well.  We urge the Commission and Department
 
          21       staff to assign this issue the highest priority
 
          22       and to ensure that the Department takes
 
          23       advantage of every opportunity to communicate
 
          24       the importance of water issues to the people of
 
          25       Texas.
 
 
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           1            Thank you for your continued efforts to
 
           2       protect our natural heritage and preserve
 
           3       it -- preserve it for generations to come.
 
           4       Thank you.
 
           5                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.  Stephen
 
           6       Labuda.  And David Langford, if you'd be
 
           7       prepared to speak next.
 
           8                 MR. LABUDA:  Good afternoon, ladies
 
           9       and gentlemen.  Thank you for letting me be
 
          10       here today.  I did provide copies of my written
 
          11       comments that I hope will be distributed to
 
          12       you.  My name is Stephen Labuda, Jr., and I am
 
          13       a Texas native I've been working for the
 
          14       U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service here in Texas
 
          15       for 24 years, and presently I'm located down at
 
          16       the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in
 
          17       Cameron County.  I'm not a fisheries biologist,
 
          18       or a turtle specialist.  I have experience with
 
          19       terrestrial vertebrates and ecology basically.
 
          20            And I'm here to inform the Commission and
 
          21       Director of TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION
 
          22       of two issues on the Laguna Atascosa Refuge
 
          23       that may impact shrimp and fish populations on
 
          24       the lower coast.  These two issues are (1) the
 
          25       reflooding of Bahia Grande on the recently
 
 
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           1       acquired Redhead Ridge Unit of Laguna Atascosa
 
           2       Refuge, and (2) an effort to move shrimp and
 
           3       fish past a constructed water-control dam and
 
           4       into a previously important estuary on the
 
           5       refuge.
 
           6            Preliminary investigations of Bahia Grande
 
           7       have disclosed that providing sea from the
 
           8       Brownsville ship channel through a narrow
 
           9       channel will flood approximately 4,000 acres at
 
          10       mean low tide, and roughly 5,000 acres at mean
 
          11       high tide.  This re-flooding will re-establish
 
          12       a productive marine nursery that has been dry
 
          13       since the ship channel was first dug in the
 
          14       early 1930's.  This project is being developed
 
          15       with a number of cooperators, including the
 
          16       National Marine Fisheries Service, Ducks
 
          17       Unlimited, the Texas Shrimp Industry, Texas
 
          18       Parks and Wildlife Department and others.  I've
 
          19       attached a two-page announcement of the history
 
          20       and intended work on Bahia Grande that I'd ask
 
          21       you to refer to for further information on this
 
          22       project.
 
          23            Secondly, in cooperation with industry
 
          24       academia and the state agricultural extension
 
          25       service, the Laguna Atascosa refuge has
 
 
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           1       developed a plan to move shrimp, fish, and
 
           2       other biota from the Lower Laguna Madre into
 
           3       the Atascosa System.  The plan is to move
 
           4       estuarine creatures from the downstream side of
 
           5       the dam on the refuge and into the Cayo
 
           6       Atascoso a meandering, estuarine waterway, and
 
           7       the Laguna Atascosa itself, a large brackish
 
           8       lake that the Cayo flows into and out of.  I
 
           9       have also attached a refuge map that shows this
 
          10       particular estuarine system.  The particulars
 
          11       of this project entail pumping fish, shrimp,
 
          12       and other marine creatures through periods of
 
          13       high rainfall, when there's a surging runoff
 
          14       into the Arroyo Colorado from the Atascosa
 
          15       System.  The pump is being provided by the
 
          16       Texas Shrimp Industry, and is specifically
 
          17       designed not to damage biota and they pass
 
          18       through the pump.  Again this project is the
 
          19       result of cooperation and consultation with the
 
          20       Texas Shrimp Industry:  Les Hodgson, the Texas
 
          21       Agricultural Extension Service (Marine):  Tony
 
          22       Reisinger, and University of Texas Marine
 
          23       Laboratory on South Padre Island:  Don
 
          24       Hockaday.  These two projects together will
 
          25       provide 8,000 to 10,000 additional acres of
 
 
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           1       estuarine waters for the production of various
 
           2       fisheries species.  Of ancillary value will be
 
           3       the benefit to duck, shorebirds, and wading
 
           4       birds, and other resident and migratory
 
           5       wildlife species.
 
           6            Thank you for allowing you to provide you
 
           7       with this information.
 
           8                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.
 
           9       Appreciate the information.
 
          10            Mr. Langford, if you'd come forward and
 
          11       ask David Stewart to be prepared to speak
 
          12       next.
 
          13                 MR. LANGFORD:  Thank you,
 
          14       Mr. Chairman, Members of the Commission and
 
          15       Staff.  I am David Langford, Texas Wildlife
 
          16       Association, and is my usual every time this
 
          17       year, I like to wish a happy anniversary to
 
          18       Mr. Sansom and myself who got our jobs at the
 
          19       same time.  He's still doing better than me.  I
 
          20       still want to -- I would like to commend the
 
          21       Commission and the staff and once again,
 
          22       enumerate a lot of the things that didn't exist
 
          23       in 1990:  The Texas Big Game Awards, the Texas
 
          24       Youth Hunting Program, Lone Star Land Steward's
 
          25       Program, Landowner Incentive Plan, the New
 
 
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           1       Managed Lands Deer Permit, the New Trap and
 
           2       Transplant Newly Revised Permit, the Private
 
           3       Lands Advisory Committee, the brand new Hunting
 
           4       Advisory Committee, the Leasing of Public
 
           5       Hunting Opportunities, Expo.  The list could go
 
           6       on.  Most significantly, I would like to
 
           7       commend the Department and the Commission and
 
           8       the Staff for recognizing in those ten years
 
           9       that there's a difference between landowners.
 
          10       There's landowners that give and landowners
 
          11       that take.  So from those landowners that give,
 
          12       we appreciate being involved and we appreciate
 
          13       the cooperative spirit evident as all of us
 
          14       were a part of creating all of these things and
 
          15       everything else that I haven't mentioned that's
 
          16       new and look forward to continue working with
 
          17       you -- with you-all on these programs and on
 
          18       developing new ones.  One thing -- one new
 
          19       thing I would like to put a plug in again this
 
          20       year for, I still think there's room for a
 
          21       lifetime nonresident hunting and fishing
 
          22       license.  There's probably not much revenue
 
          23       there to pick up, but I still get phone calls
 
          24       about that all the time.
 
          25            I'd like to thank you again for this
 
 
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           1       opportunity and it's probably my only official
 
           2       time before the microphone to wish Mr. Bass and
 
           3       Mr. Ryan and Mr. Heath well, since I don't know
 
           4       what we're going to do without you-all up there
 
           5       at the -- sitting at those desks.
 
           6            Thank you again, and I'd like to -- I'd
 
           7       like to close with one comment.  It's -- I
 
           8       think it's kind of interesting that I come and
 
           9       follow Steve Labuda from the Fish and Wildlife
 
          10       Service.  That's kind of like the fox following
 
          11       the master of the hunt.
 
          12                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Dave Stewart and
 
          13       Larry Pressler, if you be prepared to speak
 
          14       next.
 
          15                 MR. STEWART:  Chairman Bass,
 
          16       Commissioners, Andy, I'm David Stewart, I'm
 
          17       president of an organization called SMART.
 
          18       You-all have seen us in the last couple of
 
          19       years in the public meeting and I just wanted
 
          20       to make a really a very simple
 
          21       less-than-three-minute statement.
 
          22            Chairman Bass, my organization appreciates
 
          23       every one of you commissioners and Andy all of
 
          24       staff with the cooperation, and when we've
 
          25       started working together the last two years on
 
 
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           1       certain vegetation issues and we appreciate
 
           2       everything that you-all have done.  I just
 
           3       wanted you to know that.
 
           4            Our -- Our last letter in our name is a T
 
           5       and that stands for "team" and we feel today
 
           6       that we have become a team where two years ago
 
           7       we were adversaries.  I just want to thank you
 
           8       very much.
 
           9                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Good.  We --
 
          10       That's -- That's what we strive for
 
          11       relationships to be is partnerships and teams
 
          12       even if we don't always see eye to eye, and --
 
          13       and it's nice to see it's working in some
 
          14       places.
 
          15                 MR. STEWART:  In my opinion, it's
 
          16       working very well, Chairman Bass.  Thank you
 
          17       again.
 
          18                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.
 
          19            And Lee Stone, if you'd be prepared to
 
          20       speak after Mr. Pressler.
 
          21                 MR. PRESSLER:  What a lead-in.
 
          22       Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the
 
          23       Commission, my name is Larry Pressler.  I'm the
 
          24       director of Parks and Recreation for the City
 
          25       of McAllen.  I'm also the chairman of the Texas
 
 
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           1       Recreation and Parks Society Legislative
 
           2       Commission -- Committee.  And I come before you
 
           3       today also to tell you how much we appreciate
 
           4       Texas motr and Wildlife working with our
 
           5       organization.  We're 2,000 members strong now
 
           6       and represent the leadership organization for
 
           7       municipal, county, governments.  We have a lot
 
           8       of Texas motr and Wildlife employees as members
 
           9       of the Texas Recreation and Parks  Society.
 
          10       And over the past several years, we have formed
 
          11       a bond with Texas Parks and Wildlife that I
 
          12       think is second to none in the United States.
 
          13       I don't know of any other parks and recreation
 
          14       organization and fish and game organization in
 
          15       any state that's as strong as the one that we
 
          16       have here.
 
          17            My message is a little bit different in
 
          18       that we want to thank you for the partnership
 
          19       that we have been allowed to develop because
 
          20       you have allowed us to develop that together.
 
          21       This has allowed us to build on this system of
 
          22       parks, not just the parks system in the state,
 
          23       but the system that we have together.  There's
 
          24       about 122 state parks and natural areas and
 
          25       historic areas in the state park system, but
 
 
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           1       there's somewhere around 5,500 or probably
 
           2       closer to 6,000 by now city and county parks in
 
           3       the state that make up this comprehensive
 
           4       system of parks throughout the state of Texas.
 
           5       It couldn't be done without the Parks and
 
           6       Wildlife Commission and we want to -- we just
 
           7       want you to know that we really appreciate this
 
           8       relationship.
 
           9            One of the most important partnerships
 
          10       that we have to be with TRAPS and Parks and
 
          11       Wildlife is this series of grant programs
 
          12       that's administered through your agency.
 
          13       Together we've proven the funding must be
 
          14       viewed in a comprehensive context instead of
 
          15       state versus city and county.  TRAPS and Texas
 
          16       Parks and Wildlife have worked side by side to
 
          17       ensure that Texas residents have a positive,
 
          18       meaningful outdoor recreation experience.
 
          19            Texas Recreation and Parks' account has
 
          20       been very instrumental in providing seed money
 
          21       for those city and county parks throughout the
 
          22       state.  Without this seed money, it wouldn't
 
          23       happen.  The money that motr and Wildlife
 
          24       grants through the recreation park account
 
          25       stimulates these things that are matched one,
 
 
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           1       two, and three times over with in-kind
 
           2       services.  It might just be providing a backhoe
 
           3       along with it, but the seed money that you-all
 
           4       grant is so important to cities like mine that
 
           5       we just can't thank you enough for that.
 
           6            The ongoing co-op program, it's a
 
           7       wonderful partnership that gives inner city
 
           8       traditionally underserved youth a chance to
 
           9       have life-changing experiences in state parks
 
          10       and natural areas.
 
          11            And finally, we want to thank you for
 
          12       allowing the people of the Rio Grande Valley
 
          13       the opportunity to start developing an
 
          14       ecotourism industry.  The World Birding Center
 
          15       project is a tough project.  And a bunch of
 
          16       these folks here on this row here join us down
 
          17       there, and Andy's down there every few months
 
          18       to help us.  It's a -- it's a difficult project
 
          19       to get going, but we're almost there, and we
 
          20       really thank you for taking the lead in helping
 
          21       Texas to stimulate this ecotourism business
 
          22       down in the Valley.
 
          23            Thank you.  Andy.
 
          24                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you,
 
          25       Mr. Pressler.  Lee Stone.  And Casey Durst, if
 
 
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           1       you'd be prepared to speak next.
 
           2                 MS. STONE:  Hello.  My name is Lee
 
           3       Stone and I'm member of the board of directors
 
           4       of the Native Prairies Association of Texas,
 
           5       and I'm here to speak for that organization and
 
           6       for our state's native grasslands and
 
           7       savannahs.
 
           8            Point one, last year we paid for and
 
           9       completed a resurvey of the 60-some-odd
 
          10       occurrences of tall grass blackland prairie
 
          11       noted on this department's database.  We
 
          12       determined ownership, appraised values and
 
          13       when -- when we could, we provided information
 
          14       on conservation easements.  In doing that and
 
          15       in doing a separate survey of Falls County
 
          16       southeast of Waco, we have found there are more
 
          17       tall grass prairie remnants than have been
 
          18       reported.  We are a small nonprofit with no
 
          19       staff, but now we are now nickeling and diming
 
          20       more county-by-county surveys for tall grass
 
          21       prairie.  At the rate we're going, it will take
 
          22       us about ten years to finish, so we are seeking
 
          23       partnerships and funds to help us move this
 
          24       project along more expeditiously and we hope
 
          25       that you'll consider this work to be of the
 
 
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           1       utmost importance and to partner with us.
 
           2            Point two.  Not to hurt my feelings, but
 
           3       speaking for a membership which appreciates and
 
           4       recognizes good quality native grasslands and
 
           5       savannahs, most of the acreage in the state's
 
           6       motr and Wildlife Management areas is in
 
           7       pathetic condition.  It is scuffy, overbrowsed,
 
           8       underburned, and under -- undermanaged, and
 
           9       resource management needs are not being met.
 
          10       And I want to mention here that we do have
 
          11       200 members who would be very glad to volunteer
 
          12       and help.
 
          13            Point three.  There are only a paultry few
 
          14       kinds of grasses and forbs native available
 
          15       commercially and these are in extremely short
 
          16       supply as most of you know already and there's
 
          17       scarcely any of it from plants originated in
 
          18       the locality of the areas being restored.
 
          19            State Parks and Wildlife Management areas
 
          20       could be vitally important local ecotype seed
 
          21       sources for their surrounding regions if
 
          22       managed properly, and TPWD could further help
 
          23       this situation by contracting when they're
 
          24       doing restorations for local ecotype seeds for
 
          25       the restoration of their parks and wildlife
 
 
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           1       management areas.  This would help drive and
 
           2       support a statewide native seeds industry,
 
           3       which could, in turn help conserve and expand
 
           4       our dwindling native plant resources.
 
           5            Thank you.
 
           6                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you,
 
           7       Ms. Stone.
 
           8            Casey Durst.  And Joseph Kovac, if you'd
 
           9       be prepared to speak next.
 
          10                 MR. DURST:  Good morning, everybody,
 
          11       Chairman Bass, members of the Texas Parks and
 
          12       Wildlife Board, and Mr. Sansom.  My name is
 
          13       Casey Durst, I'm 14 years old, and I go to
 
          14       Arlington High School, and I'm a junior
 
          15       shooter.  I am representing myself.
 
          16            Every night on record, the news talks
 
          17       about problems facing kids, mostly teenagers.
 
          18       I'm proud to say that, at least for me, I'm not
 
          19       having those problems.  There are many reasons,
 
          20       but one main reason comes to mind:  Almost
 
          21       every afternoon after going to church, my
 
          22       father and I shoot on the Texas Parks and
 
          23       Wildlife Range in Mineral Wells.  It is more
 
          24       than just shooting, it's the 45-minute drive to
 
          25       Mineral Wells and back.  My father and I catch
 
 
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           1       up on a lot of things.
 
           2            That range has basically been my second
 
           3       home.  My father has brought me out there since
 
           4       I was six.  I've done everything from mow to
 
           5       paint.  He finally let me shoot last year.  I
 
           6       thoroughly enjoy it.  My goal is to shoot for
 
           7       the 2003 under 25 team.
 
           8            I would like to thank the previous
 
           9       administration of the Fort Walters Shooting
 
          10       Sports Club for their support and the Texas
 
          11       Parks and Wildlife for providing me with a
 
          12       place to safe -- safely shoot long range.
 
          13            Thank you for your time.
 
          14                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.
 
          15                 (Applause.)
 
          16                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Joseph Kovac, if you
 
          17       would speak.  And Janice Bezanson, be prepared
 
          18       to speak next.
 
          19                 MR. KOVAC:  Chairman Bass, Parks and
 
          20       Wildlife Commission, and Mr. Sansom, my name is
 
          21       Joseph Kovac.  I'm a private citizen and
 
          22       represent myself.  I was born and raised in
 
          23       Fort Worth, Texas.  I thought that it was
 
          24       important enough to come down to Austin today
 
          25       to thank the Parks and Wildlife that I skipped
 
 
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           1       a day at my school Trinity Valley in
 
           2       Fort Worth where I am a senior.
 
           3            About six years ago I was introduced to
 
           4       rifle shooting through the Boy Scouts of
 
           5       America.  I earned the rifle shooting badge on
 
           6       the trail of requirements to Eagle Scout which
 
           7       I earned my freshman year in high school.
 
           8            Since then, I've become much more involved
 
           9       with rifle shooting and have taken up long
 
          10       range shooting.  I practice at Fort Walters in
 
          11       Mineral Wells the land of which is under Texas
 
          12       Parks and Wildlife.
 
          13            Under the past administration of the
 
          14       shooting club at Fort Walters, I received a
 
          15       great deal of help and instruction.  After
 
          16       continuously practicing at Fort Walters for
 
          17       three years, the quality of my shooting was
 
          18       good enough to be selected for the United
 
          19       States understand 25 and under 21 team to
 
          20       Bisley, England, to compete in the world
 
          21       championships earlier this summer.  Our team
 
          22       won the gold medal there.  It is the first
 
          23       United States team to win a gold medal there
 
          24       since 1985.
 
          25            None of my achievements could have been
 
 
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           1       possible without the wonderful range that the
 
           2       Texas Parks and Wildlife has provided to me.
 
           3       Under the past administration of the club, I
 
           4       have had a wonderful place to shoot and be
 
           5       coached.  I hope that this will continue and
 
           6       that the Texas Parks and Wildlife will continue
 
           7       to provide this shooting facility for me.
 
           8       Thank you.
 
           9                 (Applause.)
 
          10                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.
 
          11       Appreciate it.  Janice Bezanson.
 
          12            If you kids need an excuse pass for your
 
          13       headmaster, I -- I'll will give you one.
 
          14            Janice Bezanson is next.  And Jim Haire if
 
          15       you'd be -- excuse me -- be prepared to speak
 
          16       next.
 
          17                 MS. BEZANSON:  Thank you,
 
          18       Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Andy.  I'm Janice
 
          19       Bezanson and I represent the Texas Committee on
 
          20       Natural Resources, TCON, I -- as we call it,
 
          21       which is a statewide conservation organization
 
          22       primarily focused on habitat issues.  We have
 
          23       long relationship with Parks and Wildlife.
 
          24       We've worked on many issues together.  We tend
 
          25       to test -- go in and testify on your budgets.
 
 
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           1       We've been get -- providing a lot of input to
 
           2       the Sunset Commission and are very, you know,
 
           3       happy with a lot of the working relationships,
 
           4       the thousand members that I represent are
 
           5       primarily interested in the resource protection
 
           6       functions of Texas Parks and Wildlife.  We're
 
           7       looking at a time of unlimited pros -- not
 
           8       unlimited unequaled prosperity, unequaled
 
           9       knowledge of the environment, and yet, the
 
          10       environment is taking a lot of hits.  Wildlife
 
          11       habitat is being degraded, water quality is
 
          12       being downgraded, instream flows are being
 
          13       threatened, bays and estuaries.  There are just
 
          14       so many issued that we have that need -- need
 
          15       addressing.
 
          16            We know the Department must be
 
          17       concentrating on the Sunset process and the
 
          18       legislation associated with that and the
 
          19       upcoming legislature, but we want to be sure
 
          20       that the Department devotes plenty of time to
 
          21       the
 
          22       water -- the regional water planning cause --
 
          23       situation with Senate Bill 1.  We're very
 
          24       concerned.  There are something like 33
 
          25       reservoirs are being talked about that wipes
 
 
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           1       out bottomline hardwood forests it takes water
 
           2       out of the bays and estuaries.  It takes waters
 
           3       out of streams.  So we feel that this is --
 
           4       must be a major focus of the Department.
 
           5            Staff's been doing a good job of attending
 
           6       those hearings but they need as much support as
 
           7       they can get from the Commission if they're to
 
           8       make a real difference in the decisions that
 
           9       are made.
 
          10            One of the things the Department is doing
 
          11       wonderful job on, and I really want to commend
 
          12       you, is the private lands initiatives that are
 
          13       established the Land Trust Council.  I'm on the
 
          14       board of the Natural Area Preservation
 
          15       Association, which is one of the larger land
 
          16       trusts in Texas.  We get a tremendous benefit
 
          17       from the Department and from the work that
 
          18       the -- the publicizing of this.  We're getting
 
          19       more and more calls all the time from private
 
          20       landowners who want help protecting their
 
          21       land.
 
          22            The vital thing I want to talk about is
 
          23       what I want to talk about every year.  I always
 
          24       talk about land acquisition because we think
 
          25       that this is a thing that the Department needs
 
 
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           1       very, very heavily to be focusing on.  Land is
 
           2       being degraded, the wildlife habitat is being
 
           3       degraded.  Land doesn't come available all that
 
           4       often, and when high quality land comes
 
           5       available, it needs to be protected now while
 
           6       it is available and before the habitat on it is
 
           7       lost.
 
           8            This is something we have emphasized
 
           9       through the Sunset process.  It's something
 
          10       that we hope that the legislature will begin to
 
          11       focus on, and we urge you as Commissioners to
 
          12       talk to the legislature and to say, We need
 
          13       funding for land acquisition for wildlife
 
          14       habitat.  Thank you.
 
          15                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you, ma'am.
 
          16       Jim Haire.  And Esther --
 
          17                 MS. DIECKMANN:  Dieckmann.
 
          18                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Dieckmann.  Thank
 
          19       you.  If you'd be prepared to speak next.
 
          20                 MR. HAIRE:  I'm Jim Haire with Texans
 
          21       Standing Tall, a state-wide coalition to reduce
 
          22       underage drinking.  I appreciate this chance to
 
          23       address the Commission.
 
          24            We -- We support Sunset's recommendations
 
          25       for the Department, from the large increases in
 
 
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           1       funds to those that would stop the alcohol and
 
           2       tobacco ads.  I will address only the beer and
 
           3       cigarette ads in the fishing regulations that
 
           4       every young Texas must see in order to obey our
 
           5       State's fish and game laws.  We understand the
 
           6       Department transferred the publishing rights to
 
           7       Texas Monthly to save money but the deal also
 
           8       involved the advertising of Budweiser beer for
 
           9       the Department's sponsor, obviously.  The very
 
          10       first edition carried five pages of their beer
 
          11       ads and the Department's foundation records
 
          12       show the beer ad money going to the
 
          13       Department.  Researchers tell us that
 
          14       81 percent of beer consumed is done so in a
 
          15       hazardous way.  A survey of 15 states shows
 
          16       Texas as the only one to advertise alcohol in
 
          17       its game and fish regulations.
 
          18            During the period when our fish and game
 
          19       laws were being signed away, Mr. Sansom was
 
          20       lamenting the lack of written guidelines to
 
          21       control sponsorship activities as he told a
 
          22       reporter, "We're flying by the seat of our
 
          23       pants."  Another observer said the sponsorship
 
          24       experience had been "a free for all."  The
 
          25       meeting that gave rise to these comments
 
 
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           1       documents Anheuser-Busch's unusual level of
 
           2       influence at the Department.  Anheuser-Busch
 
           3       executives came to Austin to express their
 
           4       disapproval of a new safe boating campaign that
 
           5       addressed drinking and boating.  As I
 
           6       understand it, Anheuser-Busch took over our
 
           7       state's safe boating campaign and came up with
 
           8       a giveaway floating boating key chain that
 
           9       advertised their beer.
 
          10            The Houston Chronicle said that meeting
 
          11       underscored the serious need for written
 
          12       guidelines to control the Department's
 
          13       sponsorships.  Commissioner Heath and
 
          14       Mr. Sansom also expressed the need for
 
          15       guidelines.  The same special influence seen
 
          16       above may have a lot to do with the fact that
 
          17       no such guidelines were ever written and that
 
          18       the "free for all" continues today, four years
 
          19       later.  (Ironically these same guidelines are
 
          20       another of the Sunset Recommendations.)
 
          21            An example of the continuing "free for
 
          22       all" is a letter from the Department prior to
 
          23       the last Expo stating their policy against
 
          24       advertising at the Expo.  But here's a
 
          25       photograph of beer being advertised to the kids
 
 
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           1       at the Expo with the caption, "You've caught a
 
           2       great fish, now catch a great feeling." The
 
           3       beer advertising even included a Budweiser
 
           4       Clydesdale.
 
           5            Researchers and even Anheuser-Busch say
 
           6       that alcohol advertising is a factor in
 
           7       underage drinking.  And underage drinking is
 
           8       the number one cause of death and injury to
 
           9       young people.  Therefore, we respectfully ask
 
          10       the Commission to repurchase, renegotiate or
 
          11       otherwise regain control of the ads in our game
 
          12       and fish laws as recommended by Sunset.
 
          13            Thanks very much.
 
          14                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.  Esther
 
          15       Dieckmann.  And Richard Chapman, if you'd be
 
          16       prepared to speak next.
 
          17                 MS. DIECKMANN:  Ladies and gentlemen,
 
          18       my name is Esther Perales-Dieckmann and I'm
 
          19       member of the Presa Coalition for Legislative
 
          20       Advocacy in San Antonio, Texas.  Our member
 
          21       organizations are located throughout Central
 
          22       and South Texas and I'm here today to provide a
 
          23       glimpse into an issue we've been looking at for
 
          24       the past two years.
 
          25            First of all, I would like to say that our
 
 
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           1       organization highly recommends that the
 
           2       legislature increase the funding for Texas
 
           3       Parks and Wildlife and we are prepared to
 
           4       support that in any way, shape, or form;
 
           5       however, we want to voice a serious concern
 
           6       about the advertising of alcohol in your
 
           7       publications and in your activities,
 
           8       specifically Budweiser beer.
 
           9            Hundreds of millions of dollars in
 
          10       advertising and public relations efforts are
 
          11       spent annually in the promotion of alcoholic
 
          12       beverages.  Texas is the second largest beer
 
          13       market in the country generating an estimated
 
          14       $6 billion in revenue for the alcohol
 
          15       industry.  It's big business.  However, it's
 
          16       important to note that there are -- that there
 
          17       are serious costs for alcohol misuse in terms
 
          18       of violent crime, injuries, sexual assault,
 
          19       fatalities on highways and waterways, damage to
 
          20       property, and loss of human life.
 
          21            Who is actually paying these costs?  We
 
          22       know that from research 97 percent of alcohol
 
          23       consumed in Texas is beer, and research also
 
          24       shows that 81 percent of beer consumed is done
 
          25       so hazardously.  The total cost to Texans
 
 
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           1       according to a recent survey is an estimated
 
           2       $4.3 billion annually.  The people of the state
 
           3       of Texas are incurring that cost.
 
           4            Texas Parks and Wildlife has been involved
 
           5       in a relationship with Anheuser-Busch.  This is
 
           6       unacceptable in our opinion because the agency
 
           7       is actually being put in a position where they
 
           8       are helping promote beer sales to the public
 
           9       through its events and the Official Hunting and
 
          10       Fishing Guide, which is required reading for
 
          11       all the hunters and anglers, including the
 
          12       young people that we're hearing about today.
 
          13       Keep in mind that the American Sport Fishing
 
          14       Association says that over 90 percent of
 
          15       today's anglers start fishing before they even
 
          16       turn 18.
 
          17            Regardless of the current arrangement for
 
          18       publication of this booklet, the Department had
 
          19       the influence and resources to recover these
 
          20       rights, and we urge you to do so and stop the
 
          21       advertising of alcohol.
 
          22            You have -- The alcohol industry has a key
 
          23       responsibility.  Let's make that real clear.
 
          24       And that responsibility is to its
 
          25       stockholders.  Texas Parks and Wildlife also
 
 
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           1       has a key responsibility and that is to the
 
           2       people of the state of Texas.
 
           3            You've received a clear message from the
 
           4       Sunset Commission.  We're urging you to help us
 
           5       preserve the health and safety of our
 
           6       communities and our young people.  We're asking
 
           7       you to reacquire the rights to stop advertising
 
           8       of alcohol in the Official Hunting and Fishing
 
           9       Guide as well as all the related events to
 
          10       Texas Parks and Wildlife.  Thank you.
 
          11                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.  Richard
 
          12       Chapman and --
 
          13                 MR. CHAPMAN:  I'd like to relinquish
 
          14       my time.  My item has just been addressed.  No
 
          15       use wasting any more time.  Pray for rain.
 
          16       Thank you.
 
          17                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.  I hope
 
          18       someone other than myself hears your prayer.
 
          19       Mary Hill.  And let's see.  George Foshee, be
 
          20       prepared to speak next.
 
          21                 MS. HILL:  I am Mary Hill, a retired
 
          22       professor of recreation from West Texas A&M
 
          23       University and now a citizen in Comal County.
 
          24       Of 30 years of my life I spent training and
 
          25       developing college students to become
 
 
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           1       professionals in the area of recreation.  Our
 
           2       philosophy and mission of recreation is to
 
           3       promote through organized activities
 
           4       constructive use of leisure time.  I commend
 
           5       your agency and the Commissioners for all the
 
           6       he wonderful recreational opportunities you
 
           7       have provided the youth of Texas.
 
           8            I am coming to you today, though, as a
 
           9       concerned professional, parent, and grandparent
 
          10       that we have allowed alcohol to sponsor our
 
          11       children's recreational activities.  Alcohol is
 
          12       if most abused drug in America.  It does not
 
          13       contribute to the philosophy of recreation.
 
          14       The alcohol and tobacco industry indicate they
 
          15       no longer target our children.  The present
 
          16       recreational booklet of the Texas Parks and
 
          17       Wildlife does not support this statement.
 
          18            Our young people are the most valuable
 
          19       resource we have in Texas and we need to keep
 
          20       it that way.  Thank you.
 
          21                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you,
 
          22       Ms. Hill.  George Foshee.  And Paul Craig I
 
          23       believe it is, if you'd be prepared to speak
 
          24       next.
 
          25                 MR. FOSHEE:  Chairman Bass,
 
 
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           1       Commissioners, Andy, I'm the president of
 
           2       Friends of Garner.  I'm also a guide that takes
 
           3       you over 4 1/2 miles over the mountains, the
 
           4       beautiful mountains of Garner, so we hear lots
 
           5       of complaints.  We have over a thousand people
 
           6       every summer that goes through Garner.  Their
 

           7       number 1 complaint, or number 2 complaint,
 
           8       rather, is the lack of adequate restrooms.  The
 
           9       4th of July, we have over 10,000 people in that
 
          10       area.  We have 30 commodes in the men's
 
          11       restrooms.  We do have a new one that will be
 
          12       built starting in January, but that is just
 
          13       three more to add.
 
          14            The other thing that tied right along with
 
          15       that is we were shut down one week this year
 
          16       because we only have one well, one water well.
 
          17       We do need a backup water system there.
 
          18            We also need funding to have enough summer
 
          19       help to keep the park in good condition.  We
 
          20       have a wonderful park host program going, but
 
          21       these people are putting in probably ten hours
 
          22       a day, seven days a week.  Some of them have
 
          23       already told us they will not be back next
 
          24       year, we probably need ten additional seasonal
 
          25       people during the summertime to help load this
 
 
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           1       extra load that we have.
 
           2            It is not funding, but the chief complaint
 
           3       that we have is our reservation system.  We're
 
           4       discriminating against telephones.  If you do
 
           5       not have a home computer, then you cannot get a
 
           6       reservation in the park.  We need to limit
 
           7       reservations.  We have people getting anywhere
 
           8       to 10 to 40 campsites with one reservation.
 
           9       If you limited that to two campsites per
 
          10       reservation, then you would have a lot more
 
          11       people satisfied.  The 333 days in advance is
 
          12       really too long a time.  Most people do not
 
          13       know when they can have a vacation the next
 
          14       year.  Thank you for your time.
 
          15                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you very much.
 
          16       I'm told that former Commissioner Bob Armstrong
 
          17       snuck in the room here when I wasn't looking
 
          18       there you are.  Greetings, Bob.
 
          19                 (Applause.)
 
          20                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  I'm -- I'm sure we
 
          21       can arrange an extra chair at the -- at the
 
          22       dais here if you'd -- if you'd like to relive
 
          23       some old times.
 
          24                 MR. ARMSTRONG:  I just came to get a
 
          25       hunting license for next year.  But I wanted to
 
 
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           1       see you in action and you're doing good.
 
           2                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Well, appreciate you
 
           3       stopping by.
 
           4                 MR. ARMSTRONG:  Thanks a lot.
 
           5                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Have a good hunt.
 
           6                 MR. ARMSTRONG:  You bet.
 
           7                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Okay.  Paul Craig.
 
           8       Okay.  Suzy Marek.  Marek.  And Jim Ellison, if
 
           9       you'd be prepared to speak next.
 
          10                 MS. MAREK:  Commissioner Bass,
 
          11       Commissioners, Mr. Sansom, this is my third
 
          12       year to proudly stand before you representing
 
          13       Texans for State Parks.  My name is Suzy Marek
 
          14       and I'm the executive director of the Friends
 
          15       of Inks Lake State Park, as well as the
 
          16       treasurer for Texans for State Parks.
 
          17            One of the things that I would like to let
 
          18       you know about is that the Texans for State
 
          19       Parks has become a -- a very viable voice now
 
          20       for our state park system and we are continuing
 
          21       to grow at a very rapid pace.  Some of our
 
          22       accomplishments over the past year that you may
 
          23       or may not be aware of is we have been able to
 
          24       express our voice before the Governor's Task
 
          25       Force on Conservation before the Sunset
 
 
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           1       Commission relating to state park issues, and
 
           2       we have also been the very proud provider of
 
           3       dinner and dessert for our state park interns
 
           4       and their superintendents this past June.
 
           5            We look forward to looking with the State
 
           6       Parks Division in support of their annual
 
           7       meeting in January where we will be working as
 
           8       volunteers as well as helping out in some of
 
           9       the financial areas.  Then we plan to jump
 
          10       right into the next legislative session
 
          11       providing a voice for the outstanding state
 
          12       park system that we have here in the state of
 
          13       Texas.
 
          14            We plan for our annual meeting in October,
 
          15       October 27th and 28th, to be the springboard
 
          16       for communications network to provide our
 
          17       legislators with the desires of their
 
          18       constituents regarding adequate and stable
 
          19       funding for our state park system during the
 
          20       upcoming legislative session.
 
          21            I wanted to just let you know that there
 
          22       are a lot of people throughout the state of
 
          23       Texas who are not necessarily associated with
 
          24       Texas Parks and Wildlife who are very avid
 
          25       supporters of this Department.  We've seen very
 
 
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           1       professional partnership capabilities between
 
           2       lowly little friends groups out there in the
 
           3       state parks with the three, four, ten people
 
           4       and hundreds of people in other state parks and
 
           5       the TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION.  And
 
           6       we're very, very proud to be associated with
 
           7       this organization.  Thank you very much for
 
           8       your time.
 
           9                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.
 
          10       Jim Ellison.  And Beth McDonald, if you could
 
          11       prepare to speak next.
 
          12                 MR. ELLISON:  Mr. Chairman,
 
          13       Commissioners, Andy, I'm here representing --
 
          14       My name is Jim Ellison and I'm representing
 
          15       Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park
 
          16       Association.  And I wanted to thank you for
 
          17       your help and cooperation and I wanted to ask
 
          18       you for one thing.  But what I wanted to thank
 
          19       you for is your help in our new facilities.  We
 
          20       have a brand new Barrington living history farm
 
          21       at the park with animals that are associated
 
          22       with the period of Anson Jones 1850.  Very,
 
          23       very interesting, and the -- the visitor --
 
          24       visitors count has been terrific.  We also have
 
          25       a new visitors' center, a new conference
 
 
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           1       center, and all of that, and I want to say
 
           2       thank you for your help on that.  We have done
 
           3       a great job.
 
           4            The other thing that we've done, now that
 
           5       we have the facilities, we have this past April
 
           6       had a vision committee meeting of all of the
 
           7       past presidents, the present board, and all
 
           8       that's associated with our association.  We
 
           9       came up with seven strategic bullets that we
 
          10       are and putting together to help the park and
 
          11       the museum.  The museum is under construction
 
          12       right now, a revitalizing a whole new exhibit
 
          13       center.  They have the downstairs which will be
 
          14       finished in the next month, and then the next
 
          15       year we'll complete it all.
 
          16            I just want to say we would like to, and
 
          17       what I wanted to ask you is to please accept an
 
          18       invitation to come and see this beautiful park,
 
          19       which is a crown jewel in your park system.
 
          20       Thank you.
 
          21                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.
 
          22       Beth McDonald.  And Dana Dean, if you could be
 
          23       prepared to speak next.
 
          24                 MS. MCDONALD:  Hello, Mr. Bass,
 
          25       Commissioners, Andy --
 
 
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           1                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Good afternoon.
 
           2                 MS. MCDONALD: -- and all our friends
 
           3       here at the Parks Department, or Parks and
 
           4       Wildlife.  I'm Beth McDonald.  I'm the
 
           5       secretary of Texans for State Parks.  I'm also
 
           6       a member of our what we consider local Park of
 
           7       the Lost Pines of Bastrop and Buescher.  I have
 
           8       several concerns that I'd like to address.
 
           9            My number one concern is our parks
 
          10       department salaries.  I realize you can't do
 
          11       everything for everybody, but I also realize
 
          12       and you realize that we're losing key people in
 
          13       our park system to better-paying jobs.  This is
 
          14       just a sign of our times and we're in the
 
          15       high-tech area now with the growth here, the
 
          16       population explosion that we have, the job
 
          17       opportunities that we have.  I would like to
 
          18       see the park salaries at a level that would
 
          19       reward those people who are long term and have
 
          20       stayed with us and those people that are
 
          21       qualified that we could attract.  You realize
 
          22       that many, many, many people are working for
 
          23       the Parks Department because that's what they
 
          24       want to do.  They love the outdoors and they
 
          25       love what they're doing.  That's the reason
 
 
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           1       they're there.
 
           2            My second concern is land acquisition.
 
           3       I've just returned from ten days in Alaska.
 
           4       Of course, I was reminded many times that
 
           5       Alaska is the largest state and Texas is
 
           6       second.  I reminded them that Texas is the
 
           7       largest state without a glacier.  But do you
 
           8       realize that we have more people in Austin than
 
           9       there is the population of Alaska.  It's
 
          10       frightening when you think of the comparison.
 
          11       With their land acquisition, I think we're
 
          12       going to see our wilderness and our wildness of
 
          13       this state and a heritage of being what we are
 
          14       taken away from us if we don't get on a land
 
          15       acquisition program so that we get some of this
 
          16       land under our thumb more or less to keep it
 
          17       for your grandchildren, my great grandchildren,
 
          18       so please consider that and put the land
 
          19       acquisition back as the number one thing.
 
          20            Two -- or three, rather, our outreach
 
          21       program.  You've heard several people speaking
 
          22       on what we need to do for our youth.  We have
 
          23       such a potential for our youth of this state.
 
          24       With our outreach programs, we hear of -- from
 
          25       San Angelo and what they have just done with
 
 
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           1       the grant from Texas Parks and Wildlife and
 
           2       it's been grand and I would like to see it
 
           3       expanded and continued to its utmost.  Thank
 
           4       you.
 
           5                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.  Maybe a
 
           6       little global warming will bring Alaska down
 
           7       to -- down to size.
 
           8                 MS. MCDONALD:  We saw that, too.
 
           9                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Give them a little
 
          10       humility there.  Dana Dean.
 
          11                 MS. DEAN:  Good afternoon.  I'm Dana
 
          12       Dean.  I represent an informal group that's
 
          13       called the Onion Creek Riders.  We are horse
 
          14       owners and trail riding enthusiasts that's
 
          15       primarily in Austin, but we do travel the state
 
          16       with horse and trailer behind us.  I also in my
 
          17       real life work to bring individuals, families,
 
          18       and businesses to Texas and primarily
 
          19       Central Texas and Austin.  There is nothing
 
          20       more emblematic to these folks, these newcomers
 
          21       and those of us who've lived here all our lives
 
          22       than the sight of a man on horseback, or in our
 
          23       case, women on horseback.
 
          24            But the fact of the matter is the public
 
          25       lands available for horseback riding in Texas
 
 
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           1       is among the smallest amount in any state in
 
           2       the United States and that's not adjusted for
 
           3       size of the states.  It really is a travesty
 
           4       that of the 117 parks that are labeled in your
 
           5       brochure, less than a dozen or those allow
 
           6       equestrian activities, and in looking over
 
           7       those, less than seven of those have more than
 
           8       five miles of equestrian trails.
 
           9            I think it's very important for those of
 
          10       us who enjoy horses and those of us who love
 
          11       Texas to open more of the state parks to
 
          12       equestrian activities, to horseback riding.
 
          13       It's safe, it's ecological, it's beautiful, and
 
          14       it's one of the symbols of our state.
 
          15            Currently we ride in a neighborhood
 
          16       greenbelt and a city park.  We are the ones
 
          17       that blazed the trails that are now used by
 
          18       hikers and people walking their dogs and people
 
          19       on bicycles and even the dreaded dirt bikers.
 
          20       We all coexist very peacefully on these
 
          21       trails.  We can do that in other parks.
 
          22            There are several parks here that are, in
 
          23       essence, in excess of 5,000 acres that are not
 
          24       available to equestrians and we would -- I
 
          25       don't know.  Of course, I'm fairly naive, don't
 
 
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           1       know what it would take to open these up, but
 
           2       it doesn't take much since we blaze our own
 
           3       trails.  All we really need is your permission
 
           4       and we'd really like for to you consider our
 
           5       request.  Thanks.
 
           6                 (Applause.)
 
           7                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.  Jerry
 
           8       Bennick.  And Will Kirkpatrick, if you'd be
 
           9       prepared to speak next.  Mr. Bennick.
 
          10       Good afternoon.
 
          11                 MR. BENNICK:  My name is Jerry
 
          12       Bennick.  I'm here basically representing
 
          13       myself and I have a written communication from
 
          14       Dr. Van Gelder who was unable to be here
 
          15       because of family problems.  Quick -- or just
 
          16       quickly, I would like to see on Rayburn the
 
          17       limit raised so that the -- so that we have a
 
          18       larger -- a larger fish to catch than we do
 
          19       now, what, I think it's 14 inches now raised to
 
          20       16, and I know a slot would be impossible
 
          21       because of the politics, but I would like to
 
          22       see the size limit raised.
 
          23            And also, I'd like to see a little bit
 
          24       more control over some of these tournaments and
 
          25       tournaments being held in weather like we're
 
 
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           1       having right now, I think, is a very
 
           2       unacceptable thing to do, and I think there
 
           3       needs to be some control with this.
 
           4            Gary's thoughts on this today, he has two
 
           5       thoughts.  The first concerns a continuing need
 
           6       for the knowledge-based management of the
 
           7       fisheries resources and second concerns the
 
           8       decision making in incorporating public
 
           9       inputs.  Even a cursory review of the past 120
 
          10       years of fresh and saltwater fisheries issues
 
          11       in the U.S. reveals a repeated pattern of
 
          12       failed opportunities to prevent destruction of
 
          13       a resource.  In many cases experts knew early
 
          14       on that corrective interventions were needed to
 
          15       protect and sustain the resource but commercial
 
          16       and recreational users effectively blocked the
 
          17       timely implementation of corrective measures.
 
          18       I'm not very similar with salt water resource
 
          19       or with the saltwater resource issued in Texas,
 
          20       but the freshwater side Texas Parks and
 
          21       Wildlife has been quite effective in managing
 
          22       the resource and is often a national leader.
 
          23       On the saltwater side, the recent concerns over
 
          24       shrimp resource may be an example of where the
 
          25       experts know a resource is in trouble.  It
 
 
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           1       remains to be seen how the balance of interest
 
           2       play out on this issue.  Clearly, leadership
 
           3       sufficiently free of undue political forces and
 
           4       leadership able to balance decision making
 
           5       using science, knowledge, and greater public
 
           6       interest is needed to continue to manage these
 
           7       resources.
 
           8            I have a continuing -- I have continued
 
           9       concerns about the --
 
          10                 MR. SANSOM:  Thank you, sir.
 
          11                 MR. BENNICK:  Andy, I'll give this
 
          12       here for --
 
          13                 MR. SANSOM:  Thank you very much.
 
          14                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you,
 
          15       Mr. Bennick.  Will Kirkpatrick and L.W.
 
          16       Ramirez, I believe, from Dallas if you'd be
 
          17       prepared to speak next.
 
          18                 MR. KIRKPATRICK:  Commissioner Bass,
 
          19       Commissioners, I'd like to thank you for having
 
          20       time to take out and listen to us.  First, I'd
 
          21       like to congratulate Commissioner Dinkins.  She
 
          22       got another award.  I don't know how many -- I
 
          23       know the Commissioners know, but I don't know
 
          24       how many of the rest of you know that she's
 
          25       just been elected to the Texas Women's Hall of
 
 
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           1       Fame and it seems like every time we have a
 
           2       Commissioners' meeting, Commissioner Dinkins,
 
           3       you're getting another award.  You deserve them
 
           4       all.  Thank you for the help.
 
           5            What I'd like to talk about today is the
 
           6       freshwater fishing regulations and human
 
           7       population trends in Texas.  While the
 
           8       regulations I will cite relate to bass, the
 
           9       fundamental concept applies to all freshwater
 
          10       game fisheries.
 
          11            In 1972 out of a state -- we had a
 
          12       statewide limit of 15 bass a day and they only
 
          13       had to be seven inches long.  You know, most of
 
          14       us are fishing with lures longer than that
 
          15       now.  Only ten of these fish could be over 11
 
          16       inches long, and if you look at some of the old
 
          17       pictures, there was a lot of bass in some of
 
          18       these tournaments that were way over 10, over
 
          19       11 inches long.  At that time, we had
 
          20       approximately a 1,600,000 and we had a state
 
          21       population of 11,620,000.
 
          22            In 1975, our statewide limits were raised
 
          23       to ten bass a day and they went up to a whole
 
          24       ten inches long.  We had 1,550,000 anglers and
 
          25       we only had a population of 12,568,000 people.
 
 
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           1            In 1986, we went to a statewide limit of
 
           2       five bass over 14 inches.  At this time, we had
 
           3       1,750,000 anglers and a population of
 
           4       16,500,000 people in Texas.  We've had no
 
           5       changes for the last 14 years.
 
           6            In July of 1999, we had a state population
 
           7       of 20 million people, and according to
 
           8       Ms. Trecote of the Texas -- Texas State Data
 
           9       Center at College Station who I recently talked
 
          10       to in the year 2025, they're expecting
 
          11       32 million people in the state of Texas.  And
 
          12       if the trends continue, that's a whole lot of
 
          13       people fishing, and it looks like we're not
 
          14       going to have much more water in Texas.
 
          15       They're not going to build many more reservoirs
 
          16       and the ones they are building, if we can get
 
          17       them, are going to be awfully small.
 
          18            Anglers and much more efficient today.
 
          19       We've done a lot of continued improvement not
 
          20       only in equipment, but also in our ability to
 
          21       use the equipment and we're going to see a lot
 
          22       more pressure on the fishery.  With this in
 
          23       mind, I would suggest that we start looking at
 
          24       decreasing the daily limits and increasing the
 
          25       minimum length limits.
 
 
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           1            You know, we used to -- When you think
 
           2       about seven-inch bass that we kept three,
 
           3       16-inch bass have way more meat if you want to
 
           4       keep them and they weigh a lot more than those
 
           5       old bass we had.  So I would like to see Parks
 
           6       and Wildlife start looking at it before we
 
           7       start getting close to these 52 -- or
 
           8       32 million people that they're talking about.
 
           9       It's just hard to believe the many people on
 
          10       the water today with 21 million what it would
 
          11       be like with 32 million.  Thank you.
 
          12                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.
 
          13       L.W. Ramirez from Dallas.  Ed Banton (sic) from
 
          14       Houston?
 
          15                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  I'm trying.
 
          16                 MR. PARTEN:  It's not your fault,
 
          17       sir.  It's mine.  It's Ed Parten.  Mr. Lee
 
          18       Bass --
 
          19                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  All right.  I'll go
 
          20       with that.
 
          21                 MR. PARTEN:  -- distinguished
 
          22       Commission, Andy, my friend, it's a pleasure to
 
          23       be here.  I didn't call or come by to ask for
 
          24       anything.  Don't send money.  I'm here to
 
          25       compliment what I feel is the greatest Parks
 
 
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           1       Fish and Wildlife Commission and division in
 
           2       the entire nation, in the world.
 
           3            And for several years it's been an honor
 
           4       and a pleasure for Texas Black Bass Unlimited
 
           5       to work with such a distinguished group of
 
           6       people.  I feel that our field biologists, our
 
           7       leaders in the inland fishery, our executive
 
           8       director are head and shoulders above any that
 
           9       exist anywhere.  It's been a pleasure for TBBU
 
          10       to work and help build the fishing center in
 
          11       Athens, to raise almost $100,000 for habitat
 
          12       enhancement on our various lakes throughout the
 
          13       state of Texas, to mark the river channel on
 
          14       Lake Livingston, build fishing piers on Lake
 
          15       Nacogdoches, and quick as our friend and great
 
          16       regional biologist, Mr. Mark Webb, gets all the
 
          17       paperwork done, Texas Black Bass will build
 
          18       another fishing pier for the physically
 
          19       challenged, for the elderly and underprivileged
 
          20       youth at Lake Raven, Huntsville State Park.
 
          21       We're excited about this.  We've had money in
 
          22       an account to do this for some time, as quick
 
          23       as all the red tape is snipped through, we're
 
          24       going to start construction on a first class
 
          25       fishing pier on one of the most utilized parks
 
 
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           1       in the park system and state of Texas.
 
           2            And I just wanted to come by once a year
 
           3       to tell you people what an honor it's been for
 
           4       the Board of Directors in Texas Black Bass
 
           5       Unlimited since 1985 to work with one of the
 
           6       greatest groups and organizations that exists,
 
           7       and it's been a real pleasure for me and all of
 
           8       the people and our members to continue, and we
 
           9       look forward to continue working with this
 
          10       organization in many projects to come.  Thank
 
          11       every one of you individually, especially you.
 
          12                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you, Ed.  We
 
          13       appreciate the partnership.  Jack Tatum.  If
 
          14       you'd come forward, please.  And Jim Adams, if
 
          15       you'd be prepared to speak next.
 
          16                   MR. TATUM:  Mr. Chairman,
 
          17       Commissioners, Mr. Sansom.  I'm Jack Tatum
 
          18       Sabine River Authority of Texas.  I provide you
 
          19       with some comments.  The Sabine River Authority
 
          20       of Texas has had a long and successful history
 
          21       of working with Parks and Wildlife:  The Lake
 
          22       Fork fishery, boat ramps, wildlife management
 
          23       areas, investigation of fish kills.  There's a
 
          24       whole long list.  I wanted to mention today
 
          25       that I'm going to talk about aquatic vegetation
 
 
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           1       and just briefly summarize for you what --
 
           2       what's in -- in the letter that's being handed
 
           3       out to you.
 
           4            Aquatic vegetation management, we've been
 
           5       working with the Parks and Wildlife on the
 
           6       rules and on the guidance document.  We're
 
           7       still very much concerned that we need funding
 
           8       for aquatic vegetation management in Texas, and
 
           9       also, that we need the liability cap.
 
          10            The Sabine River Authority has three river
 
          11       reservoirs in the Sabine Basin of Texas.
 
          12       Toledo Bend is operated jointly with Sabine
 
          13       River Authority of Louisiana, Lake Tawakoni,
 
          14       and Lake Fork.  There's no federal projects in
 
          15       the Sabine Basin.  There's 15 reservoirs, two
 
          16       of which are in Texas.  So there's a lot of
 
          17       waters to manage.  We're having problems with
 
          18       salvinia and water hyacinths.  We provided
 
          19       $20,000 to Parks and Wildlife this past year to
 
          20       spray 200 acres of salvinia on Toledo Bend.
 
          21       There was 1400 acres or 1200 acres or so of
 
          22       water hyacinths that went unsprayed.
 
          23            We don't have the staff.  We want to work
 
          24       with you.  Parks and Wildlife has the
 
          25       expertise, and we'd like to help you seek the
 
 
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           1       funding that's necessary.  There's many other
 
           2       surface waters.
 
           3            The new tourist bureau as you come into
 
           4       Texas in Blue Elbow Swamp, which is a Parks and
 
           5       Wildlife management area is covered with
 
           6       salvinia.  It's not the giant, it's the common
 
           7       salvinia, but it's still covering the water
 
           8       surface, so there's a lot of areas that this
 
           9       plant is showing up in.  It's being spread
 
          10       and -- and we need Parks and Wildlife's help to
 
          11       try to get this under control, as well as water
 
          12       hyacinths and other nuisance vegetation.  And
 
          13       I'll just let my remarks stand.  Thank you.
 
          14                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you,
 
          15       Mr. Tatum.  Mr. Adams.  And John Wagner, if
 
          16       you'd be prepared to speak next, please.
 
          17                 MR. ADAMS:  Mr. Chairman,
 
          18       Commissioners, Mr. Sansom, I recall what Bill
 
          19       West and Jack Tatum said.  San Jacinto River
 
          20       Authority owns and operates Lake Conroe and we
 
          21       do a monthly helicopter search looking for
 
          22       aquatic vegetation that's bad stuff.  In March,
 
          23       there was none.  In April, there were 40
 
          24       acres.  We've spent $46,000 in cash to fight
 
          25       giant salvinia in Lake Conroe just this year.
 
 
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           1       We've spent $50,000 fighting water hyacinths
 
           2       mechanically last year.  We need some
 
           3       additional sources of -- of revenue.  We have
 
           4       an organization on Lake Conroe that the local
 
           5       residents participate in, but during the
 
           6       enabling legislation for this aquatic manage --
 
           7       management plan, there is a mechanism in there
 
           8       where the water development board could have
 
           9       some funding for grants and for studies to
 
          10       combat this stuff, and we would appreciate it
 
          11       if the Parks and Wildlife would request that
 
          12       from the Water Development Board.
 
          13            We need the water development board to
 
          14       become more active.  They helped us initially
 
          15       when we -- when we started treating the
 
          16       salvinia, but your manpower is sorely limited,
 
          17       and what our concern is is that there are very
 
          18       few lakes that are controlled by river
 
          19       authorities.  There are a lot of lakes that
 
          20       don't have an agency specifically to control
 
          21       them, and when the first flush comes, if this
 
          22       drought ever breaks, we're going to be fighting
 
          23       it again.  And there are going to be a lot of
 
          24       reservoirs that don't have some means to be
 
          25       able to combat this aquatic vegetation, and I'm
 
 
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           1       afraid Parks and Wildlife is going to be left
 
           2       behind the curve.
 
           3            And with that I'll stop.  Thank you, sir.
 
           4                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you for
 
           5       coming.  John Wagner.  And Blake Kellum, if
 
           6       you'd be prepared to speak next.
 
           7                 MR. WAGNER:  I'm John Wagner.  I
 
           8       represent the Lake Conroe Association.
 
           9       Chairman Bass, Commissioners, Mr. Sansom, thank
 
          10       you for the opportunity to be here this
 
          11       afternoon.
 
          12            The Lake Conroe Association wants to thank
 
          13       the San Jacinto River Authority and the Texas
 
          14       Parks and Wildlife for their excellent response
 
          15       and efforts to control giant salvinia on Lake
 
          16       Conroe.  On April 5th, 40 acres of giant
 
          17       salvinia was discovered growing in our lake.
 
          18       Thanks to the efforts of the San Jacinto River
 
          19       Authority and Texas Parks and Wildlife, there's
 
          20       less than four acres of giant salvinia growing
 
          21       in Lake Conroe today.  Lake Conroe consists of
 
          22       21,000 surface acres.  Only 40 acres were
 
          23       contaminated or 0.2 percent of the surface area
 
          24       of our lake.  $46,000 were spent to bring this
 
          25       under control where it is today.  The fear that
 
 
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           1       most of us residents on Lake Conroe have, what
 
           2       if that had been 2 percent?  That would have
 
           3       meant $460,000 would have needed to be spent
 
           4       just to get where we are today.
 
           5            The Lake Conroe Association asks Texas
 
           6       Parks and Wildlife to request sufficient funds
 
           7       from the Texas Water Development Board in House
 
           8       Bill 3079 to fund quality research and the
 
           9       control of giant salvinia not only on
 
          10       Lake Conroe, but in all surface waters in the
 
          11       state of Texas.  Thank you.
 
          12                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.
 
          13       Mr. Kellum, did you wish to speak?
 
          14                 MR. KELLUM:  Actually, sir, I was
 
          15       signed up as an observer, so -- and John just
 
          16       covered what I needed to say, so thank you very
 
          17       much.
 
          18                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.
 
          19       Appreciate you coming.  Patrick Burchfield.
 
          20       And Joe O'Brien, if you'd be prepared to speak
 
          21       next.
 
          22                 MR. BURCHFIELD:  Chairman Bass,
 
          23       Commissioners, Mr. Sansom, thank you for the
 
          24       opportunity to be here today.  I'm here
 
          25       speaking on my own behalf.  I do, however, do
 
 
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           1       contract work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
 
           2       Service, but I'm, again, speaking for myself.
 
           3       I have in that capacity for the past 19 years
 
           4       headed up the U.S. field group in Mexico at the
 
           5       Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle Recovery Program.
 
           6            In the 1978, Mexico met with elements from
 
           7       Texas Parks and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and
 
           8       Wildlife, the National Park Service, National
 
           9       Marine Fishery Service, and other conservation
 
          10       groups and it was decided that something
 
          11       dramatic had to be done if Kemp's Ridley sea
 
          12       turtle was to be saved from imminent
 
          13       extinction.  At that time, the Binational
 
          14       Mexico-U.S. Program was born.
 
          15            The first year of the Binational Program,
 
          16       the production of eggs and hatchlings from the
 
          17       nesting beach essentially doubled because of
 
          18       the increase in effort.  However, between 1978
 
          19       and 1985, things were not all that great
 
          20       because the population continued a precipitous
 
          21       decline, and in 1985, we reached the all-time
 
          22       low of 702 nests for an entire nesting season
 
          23       as opposed to the massive nesting aggregations
 
          24       of forty or more thousand turtles in a single
 
          25       day which in Mexico are called arrivaras.
 
 
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           1            We had reached a point where we clearly
 
           2       had probably less than 600 nesting females left
 
           3       in the entire next population.  This turtle
 
           4       nests every other year typically, so the
 
           5       turtles we see this year we won't see for two
 
           6       more years.
 
           7            However, all of the agencies involved
 
           8       hung in there and in some years, I do not
 
           9       exaggerate, the biologists ate beans and cactus
 
          10       and we didn't have enough gasoline to operate
 
          11       the ATVs to do the beach patrols.
 
          12            It's not that bad now, fortunately, but it
 
          13       requires a collaborative effort, the
 
          14       cooperation between state, federal, MGOs, and
 
          15       industry if we're going to be successful in
 
          16       this recovery effort because everyone involved,
 
          17       all the stakeholders, need to be committed to
 
          18       trying to bring back a healthy Gulf of Mexico
 
          19       ecology and the Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle is a
 
          20       big part of that process.
 
          21            This year, 19 -- or Year 2000, I'm
 
          22       standing here, and these are preliminary data,
 
          23       they're not final yet, so far in Mexi -- in
 
          24       Tamaulipas and Veracruz, we have protected
 
          25       6,272 nests and we've released right at 391,578
 
 
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           1       baby Ridley turtles into the Gulf of Mexico.  I
 
           2       would point out that it's only because of a
 
           3       cooperative effort between --
 
           4                 MR. SANSOM:  Thank you,
 
           5       Mr. Burchfield.
 
           6                 MR. BURCHFIELD:  -- federal
 
           7       government, state, and industry which this year
 
           8       put in over one third of the resources for the
 
           9       project.
 
          10                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.
 
          11       Father Joseph O'Brien?  Left.  Okay.  Well, I
 
          12       think I have more sign-up cards left here than
 
          13       I have left in the room, but we'll go through
 
          14       them.
 
          15            Leo Munoz?  And George Deshotelt, if you'd
 
          16       be prepared to speak next.
 
          17                 MR. MUNOZ:  Mr. Chairman, members,
 
          18       thank you.  My name is Leo Munoz.  I'm the
 
          19       legislative assistant for Representative Jim
 
          20       Solis who represents Cameron County, the
 
          21       Harlingen-Brownsville area, Port Isabel, and I
 
          22       am -- excuse me -- here to read a letter from
 
          23       representative Solis as well as Representative
 
          24       Oliveira.
 
          25            Dear Mr. Osburn and members of the
 
 
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           1       Commission, as State Representatives of the
 
           2       thousands of South Texas shrimpers who earn
 
           3       their living -- excuse me -- along the Texas
 
           4       coast, we felt compelled to make a statement
 
           5       against changing the rules regulating the
 
           6       shrimping industry along our coast and in our
 
           7       bays.
 
           8            Proposals such as decreasing the areas
 
           9       shrimpers are allowed to shrimp in our bay and
 
          10       extending the winter gulf closure by 30 days
 
          11       will be detrimental to our shrimpers and have
 
          12       dire consequences for our local economies.
 
          13            We expressly feel that while Parks and
 
          14       Wildlife has made good faith efforts to
 
          15       communicate and bring many from the shrimping
 
          16       industry to the table, to penalize our
 
          17       shrimpers without sufficient data could have
 
          18       perilous consequences for many shrimpers.
 
          19            We respectfully ask that Texas Parks and
 
          20       Wildlife refrain from making a decision on this
 
          21       matter until more scientific data can be
 
          22       reviewed and considered.  We believe this will
 
          23       enable Parks and Wildlife -- excuse me -- to
 
          24       make a better decision as to how to address the
 
          25       sustaining and supporting shrimp as a species
 
 
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           1       and shrimping as an industry.
 
           2            Sincerely, Jim Solis and -- excuse me --
 
           3       Representative Rene Oliveira.  Thank you.
 
           4                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.  I believe
 
           5       we all received a copy of that letter earlier
 
           6       today.
 
           7                 MR. MUNOZ:  Okay.  Thank you.
 
           8                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.  George
 
           9       Deshotelt.  And Robert McFarlane, if you'd be
 
          10       prepared to speak next.
 
          11                 MR. DESHOTELT:  Thank you,
 
          12       Chairman Bass.  There's not many people that
 
          13       pronounce my name correctly, but -- especially
 
          14       if you're not from Louisiana, so --
 
          15                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  I got lucky.
 
          16                 MR. DESHOTELT:  My name is
 
          17       George Deshotelt.  I'm county commissioner out
 
          18       of Matagorda County.  We have roughly 68 miles
 
          19       of coastline.  We have East Matagorda Bay,
 
          20       West Matagorda Bay, and I represent the towns
 
          21       of Matagorda and Sargent in my precinct.
 
          22            I want to thank Director Sansom and his
 
          23       staff for taking so much input on our shrimp
 
          24       regulations; however, in our area, we would
 
          25       like to tweak them a little bit if we could.
 
 
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           1       And the first item we'd like to address is the
 
           2       seabob net size.  Right now it's proposed at 34
 
           3       feet.  Our shrimpers in our area use that as a
 
           4       wintertime resource to earn some money for
 
           5       during the wintertime.  To make it economically
 
           6       feasible, they need to drag about a 42- or
 
           7       45-foot net with the fuel prices as it is
 
           8       today.  If they're not seabobbing in the
 
           9       wintertime, they're trot lining or oystering,
 
          10       and that's a year-around resource for us,
 
          11       and -- as far as our recreational areas.
 
          12            And the other item I'd like to address is
 
          13       the proposed changes on the nursery area in the
 
          14       eastern end of West Matagorda Bay.  I'd like to
 
          15       try to move it further to the west.  Where it's
 
          16       proposed right now is in some deep water which
 
          17       is -- which is an area that is shrimped quite a
 
          18       bit.  It is not a nursery area.  I know the map
 
          19       show it as a nursery area.  I think the local
 
          20       biologists will confirm that.  I've talked to
 
          21       Dr. McKinney about it and they're reviewing
 
          22       that, but this is something that as far as our
 
          23       economic impact has a direct economic impact to
 
          24       our shrimpers in that area.  Because as we
 
          25       speak right now, that's where they're
 
 
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           1       shrimping.  And like I said, it's not a nursery
 
           2       area.
 
           3            And with that, I want to -- if that blond
 
           4       with the Onion Creek Riding Club is still here,
 
           5       we allow horseback riding on Matagorda and
 
           6       assorted beaches.  I wanted her to know that,
 
           7       so thank you very much.
 
           8                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  I've got her address
 
           9       here somewhere.  Robert McFarlane, are you
 
          10       here?
 
          11                 MR. MCFARLANE:  Yes.
 
          12                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Good.  Thank you.
 
          13       And Les Hodgson, if you'd be prepared to speak
 
          14       next.
 
          15                 MR. MCFARLANE:  Good afternoon,
 
          16       ladies and gentlemen.  My name is Robert
 
          17       McFarlane.  I'm a consultant hired by the
 
          18       Calhoun County Texas Shrimpers.  I am certified
 
          19       as a fishery scientist by the American Fishery
 
          20       Society, a qualification that is lacking among
 
          21       your staff.
 
          22            I bring you good news today.  I am wearing
 
          23       the battle tartan of the clan McFarlane today
 
          24       because I am here to fight for what is right.
 
          25            The proposed regulatory changes are based
 
 
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           1       upon an utterly false premise, and therefore,
 
           2       are clearly wrong.  I have three minutes to
 
           3       convince you not to make a major mistake.  Your
 
           4       staff are scampering around like Chicken Little
 
           5       claiming that the sky is falling and shrimp
 
           6       fisheries are about to collapse.  Balderdash.
 
           7       Shrimpers are enjoying the best shrimp harvest
 
           8       in years, but your staff have closed in their
 
           9       minds to this inconvenient fact.
 
          10            If I can convince you of only one thing
 
          11       this afternoon it must be the fact that your
 
          12       staff are deceiving you and perhaps
 
          13       themselves.  You pay for a very expensive
 
          14       coastal fisheries monitoring program, but your
 
          15       staff have ignored all of its data.
 
          16            Please examine the table I have provided.
 
          17       Only two of the 20 cells with data in that
 
          18       table indicate there is a problem in any of the
 
          19       three shrimp fisheries that we have.  The bag
 
          20       seining data show that there are more small
 
          21       juvenile brown and pink shrimps in our bays
 
          22       than ever, but those shrimp do not show up in
 
          23       the trawl data.  Were they eaten by the 330
 
          24       million red fish that you have stocked in the
 
          25       bays?
 
 
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           1            Instead of investigating the cause of this
 
           2       anomaly, your staff have blamed the victim, the
 
           3       commercial shrimpers.  Because it is difficult
 
           4       to manage environmental influences, your staff
 
           5       have chosen instead to reduce the efficiency of
 
           6       commercial shrimpers.
 
           7            Your decision should be based on
 
           8       verifiable science.  Nothing in your briefing
 
           9       book qualifies as science.  It is all smoke and
 
          10       mirrors.  Neither you nor anyone else can
 
          11       decipher those squiggly lines and arrows.
 
          12       Science operates in the open where the data and
 
          13       statistics are available to all who are
 
          14       interested, not hidden from view in a folder
 
          15       labeled, Trust Me.
 
          16            Science must be replicable.  This is not.
 
          17       Science must consider all of the available
 
          18       information, not pick and choose those pieces
 
          19       that you happen to like.  Species must be
 
          20       analyzed independently, not lumped together
 
          21       where one bad apple spoils the lot.  Until you
 
          22       are certain that scientific consensus has been
 
          23       achieved, and it has not at this moment --
 
          24                 MR. SANSOM:  Thank you,
 
          25       Dr. McFarlane, your time is up.
 
 
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           1                 MR. MCFARLANE:  Okay.
 
           2                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you, sir.  I
 
           3       didn't know to wear my clan Buchanan tartan
 
           4       today, which I'm a descendant of.
 
           5            Les Hodgson.  And Pat Suter or Surfer, if
 
           6       you'd be prepared to speak next.
 
           7                 MR. HODGSON:  Mr. Chairman, members
 
           8       of the Commission, members of the Parks and
 
           9       Wildlife staff, good afternoon.  My name is
 
          10       Les Hodgson.  I am in the commercial seafood
 
          11       industry out of Brownsville, Texas.  I'm the
 
          12       past president and chairman of the board of the
 
          13       National Fisheries Institute, the largest
 
          14       seafood trade organization in the United
 
          15       States, and I'm here with great concern over
 
          16       your shrimp rule.
 
          17            As you just heard from Dr. McFarlane there
 
          18       are still questions on the science.  I attended
 
          19       three of the public hearings that Parks and
 
          20       Wildlife had -- held along the Texas coast.  At
 
          21       those three hearings, the biggest support for
 
          22       the -- the shrimp rule came from the
 
          23       environmental community that is interested in
 
          24       protecting the Kemp's Ridley sea turtle.
 
          25            A number of years ago, the seafood
 
 
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           1       industry, the National Fisheries Institute,
 
           2       Texas Shrimp Association, and private companies
 
           3       decided rather than to put their money into
 
           4       litigation and ads and -- and fights, that we
 
           5       were better off to support the Binational
 
           6       Kemp's Ridley Restoration Project in Mexico.
 
           7            We have done that.  We've given them
 
           8       money, we've given them support, we've given
 
           9       our time.  We're very, very proud to tell you
 
          10       that the turtle is coming back.  It's still an
 
          11       endangered species.  We can't quit now.  But
 
          12       it's coming back, and the seafood industry has
 
          13       been very, very responsible at taking care of
 
          14       its -- its duties and the health of the Gulf of
 
          15       Mexico.
 
          16            If Texas Parks and Wildlife staff sees
 
          17       problems with the -- the shrimp situation, we'd
 
          18       like to be given the opportunity to be just as
 
          19       responsible in that regard.  We have not
 
          20       been -- We've not been given the opportunity to
 
          21       sit at the table as a partner.  We're told
 
          22       to -- to come and assist and trust and what
 
          23       have you.  That's impossible to do unless we're
 
          24       treated properly, and we have been treated
 
          25       improperly all the way along through this
 
 
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           1       process.
 
           2            The seafood industry of this country is
 
           3       responsible.  We're doing our part.  Please
 
           4       give us the opportunity to do it justly.  Thank
 
           5       you.
 
           6                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Pat Surfer.  And Mira
 
           7       Williams, if you'd be prepared to speak next.
 
           8                 MS. SUTER:  The name is Pat Suter.
 
           9                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Suter.  I'm sorry.
 
          10                 MS. SUTER:  I'm sorry.  I don't write
 
          11       better than that.  I'm from Corpus Christi,
 
          12       Texas.
 
          13                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  I was giving you the
 
          14       benefit of being a surfer.
 
          15                 MS. SUTER:  Well, why not.  I'm from
 
          16       Corpus Christi, Texas, and will be speaking
 
          17       tomorrow again on the shrimping issue.  I guess
 
          18       we're going to be speaking tomorrow.  I don't
 
          19       know.
 
          20            I heard all that went on this morning, and
 
          21       I also listened to one lady who'd been to
 
          22       Alaska and she says Alaska's bigger than Texas,
 
          23       well, that's true, but Texas is number one in
 
          24       what?  Pollution.  Number one in pollution.
 
          25       And we're number 49th in spending on the
 
 
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           1       environment.
 
           2            And so I would like to offer Parks and
 
           3       Wildlife any help that we can give you from the
 
           4       coastal zone to help get more money for Parks
 
           5       and Wildlife, the land acquisition or
 
           6       whatever.
 
           7            But right now I was just going to say that
 
           8       in contrast to the two people who spoke ahead
 
           9       of me, I do support the Parks and Wildlife
 
          10       staff in their data.  I support NMFS in their
 
          11       data.  I think that data is scientifically
 
          12       correct.  I happen to be a scientist myself,
 
          13       and I believe that we should go for the
 
          14       restrictions or new regulations as they have
 
          15       been proposed prior to the modifications last
 
          16       Friday.  I'm very much for the five-mile
 
          17       closure zone from May Fish Pass to the Mexican
 
          18       border.  Thank you.
 
          19                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.  Mira
 
          20       Williams, and if you think -- Ms. Suter if you
 
          21       think I got your bad, I'd like you to hear what
 
          22       I --
 
          23                 MS. WILLIAMS:  Well, that's just
 
          24       okay.  My name's Mina Williams --
 
          25                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Mina.
 
 
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           1                 MS. WILLIAMS:  -- and I have written
 
           2       to you numerous times --
 
           3                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Okay.
 
           4                 MS. WILLIAMS:  -- but that's not
 
           5       verbal.
 
           6            Chairman Bass, Commissioners, Andy Sansom,
 
           7       thank you.  I have had to revise my whole
 
           8       speech in the last 15 minutes, so I'm kind of
 
           9       punchy.  Here it goes.
 
          10            I'm here from Corpus Christi because I'm
 
          11       vitally interested in your final judgments
 
          12       regarding the shrimping regulations.  Thank you
 
          13       for bring Drs. Gracia, Zimmerman, and Nance to
 
          14       help us and to reassure us that the science is,
 
          15       indeed, accurate and to warn us of future
 
          16       trouble in the shrimping industry.  I know that
 
          17       you're struggling with complexities because
 
          18       it's a complex issue; however, I encourage you
 
          19       to consider very seriously adopting your
 
          20       scientists' original recommendations.
 
          21            This summer I have attended TPWD hearings
 
          22       and served as a member of the shrimp working
 
          23       group.  I have watched as your biologists have
 
          24       deleted or liberalized over 75 percent of their
 
          25       original proposals.  Whatever the future of the
 
 
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           1       Texas shrimp industry is, I am primarily
 
           2       concerned today with the present impact of that
 
           3       industry on endangered species in the Gulf and
 
           4       I'm proud to say it.
 
           5            The stranding data concerning the
 
           6       endangered Kemp's Ridley turtles make clear the
 
           7       fact that shrimp trawls are, indeed, the chief
 
           8       cause of sea turtle stranding.  I don't have
 
           9       time to tell you why, but I will tomorrow if
 
          10       you want to know.  A partial closure, though
 
          11       better than none, will leave endangered animals
 
          12       exposed to intense concentration of shrimp
 
          13       boats in a newly opened area.  Ironically,
 
          14       opening in mid-July the area which has been
 
          15       closed for the previous 7 1/2 months may well
 
          16       result in a killing field for all living
 
          17       creatures in shrimpers' paths.  A southern
 
          18       closure year around out to at least five
 
          19       nautical miles would help the Kemp's Ridleys
 
          20       whose secondary nesting site is our own Padre
 
          21       Island -- we need to pay attention to that's
 
          22       Texas -- while their primary nesting site is in
 
          23       Mexico obviously.  We know that.
 
          24            Well, since less than 1 1/2 percent of the
 
          25       dollar value of shrimp catch comes from the
 
 
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           1       waters which would comprise the southern
 
           2       closure, I appeal to you to consider it in its
 
           3       original form.  If you cannot see your way to
 
           4       do that, at the very at least, expend the
 
           5       summer opening to sometime in August and start
 
           6       work immediately on a limited entry program to
 
           7       limit the number of shrimp boats allowed to
 
           8       fish in these waters during the open period.
 
           9            As you're keenly aware, it is even yet
 
          10       within your power to adopt your scientists'
 
          11       original proposals.  If you would do so, you
 
          12       would reassure your many constituents that you
 
          13       value their comments.  Thank you.
 
          14                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you, ma'am.
 
          15            As long as I'm butchering names, I'm going
 
          16       to go ahead and try this one.  Reverend Joseph
 
          17       Phamdustrinh?
 
          18            Get that?
 
          19            Yes, Ms. Vu.
 
          20                 MS. VU:  He's not here now and he
 
          21       asked me if I can have your permission to give
 
          22       his speech.
 
          23                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Yes, I would allow
 
          24       you to do that.
 
          25                 MS. VU:  Oh, thank you.  Thank you,
 
 
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           1       Mr. Chairman and --
 
           2                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  I might allow you
 
           3       later to help me with some other names that I
 
           4       can see they're from Palacios --
 
           5                 MS. VU:  Yes, sir.
 
           6                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  -- but I'm not sure I
 
           7       can -- I can understand the writing.
 
           8                 MS. VU:  His title is Experiences
 
           9       Sharing.  I am Joseph Phamdustrinh, a
 
          10       Vietnamese priest.  For the last 25 years I
 
          11       have been living among the Vietnamese fishermen
 
          12       in Palacios, Texas.  During that time I have
 
          13       gather -- gathered some personal experience
 
          14       concerning the harvesting of shrimp and crab
 
          15       from the Gulf of Mexico, which I wish to share
 
          16       with you today.
 
          17            First, I want to tell you, that the
 
          18       Vietnamese fishermen are ready to abide
 
          19       dutifully to the regulations set up by the
 
          20       Parks and Wildlife Agency, and ask latecomers
 
          21       they are grateful to local fishermen who are
 
          22       willing to share with them the bounty from the
 
          23       sea.
 
          24            That bounty has gone up and down.
 
          25       Pollution mostly from factories along waterways
 
 
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           1       may have disastrous consequences.  TED and crab
 
           2       traps specification may hinder.  But in the
 
           3       long run, crops vary mostly with current
 
           4       temperatures, rain, wind and so on.  In other
 
           5       terms, tantamount is the role of nature.
 
           6            Weather can be fickle.  El Nino can
 
           7       influence profoundly atmospheric conditions.
 
           8       So do hurricanes and other forms of air
 
           9       currents.  For example, if during the shrimping
 
          10       season the wind blows mostly from the
 
          11       southeast, the harvest may be plentiful; on the
 
          12       contrary, if the southwest wind prevails, the
 
          13       harvest may be meager.  Rain that dilutes the
 
          14       salinity of the sea and helps to keep the
 
          15       waters in motion is decidedly a favorable
 
          16       factor for shrimp growing in size.  But who
 
          17       can -- who on Earth can command weather?
 
          18            So if the harvest from the sea is poor
 
          19       this year, let us be patient.  It may be
 
          20       plentiful the next year.  Don't hold the poor
 
          21       fishermen who operate modest boats responsible
 
          22       overfishing.  Don't harass these people who
 
          23       labor hardest among workers, who contribute a
 
          24       sizable share to the Texas economy, and are
 
          25       most liable to accidents often fatal.  Perhaps
 
 
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           1       fishing with better return may bring in more
 
           2       sportsmen and tourists, but local people who
 
           3       are supported by local banks, business-related,
 
           4       and sell their products to local consumers may
 
           5       have priority.
 
           6            If one insists on putting a finger on the
 
           7       culprit of overfishing, I dare say that the
 
           8       mammoth enterprises who deplete natural
 
           9       resources in massive proportions on the high
 
          10       sea is the villain.  If their greed is
 
          11       effectively curbed, the Gulf of Mexico is in
 
          12       its generosity can feed many fishermen for
 
          13       centuries to come.  Thank you.
 
          14            And I also due to the time and your
 
          15       valuable time, these 88 signatures here that
 
          16       signed a petition, I'd like to go ahead and
 
          17       read the petition that they signed.
 
          18            We people of the Texas Shrimp Industry
 
          19       hereby request that the Commission does not
 
          20       adopt any of the proposed regulations that
 
          21       appear in the Texas Register.  We ask you to
 
          22       propose these proposed regulations until
 
          23       science -- sound science can be done to prove
 
          24       TPW's 18-month study, as well as the need for
 
          25       further regulations.  We feel this study is
 
 
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           1       unjust and based on unsound science.
 
           2            Thank you.
 
           3                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you, Ms. Vu.
 
           4       If you'd give that to Ms. Estrada, we'd
 
           5       appreciate it.  Pam Baker.  And Richard
 
           6       Morrison, if you'd prepared to speak next.
 
           7                 MS. BAKER:  Thank you, Commissioner,
 
           8       Chairman, and other Commissioners.  My name is
 
           9       Pam Baker.  I represent Environmental Defense.
 
          10       I'm a fisheries biologist.  We have about
 
          11       12,000 members here in Texas.  We work to find
 
          12       economic solutions to environmental problems.
 
          13       We appreciate the Department and the
 
          14       Commission's effort to reduce the shrimp in --
 
          15       shrimp industries' overfishing and bycatch
 
          16       damage.
 
          17            Although implementing precautionary
 
          18       measures is controversial, the Department's
 
          19       mandate under the shrimp fishery management
 
          20       plan is to prevent overfishing while achieving
 
          21       the optimum yield of shrimp stocks.  My three
 
          22       comments are aimed to the final staff
 
          23       recommendations presented in Mr. Sansom's
 
          24       August 25th letter.
 
          25            One, new rules may reduce overfishing and
 
 
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           1       bycatch overfishing.  Overfishing of small
 
           2       shrimp may be reduced with -- with new nursery
 
           3       areas designations and by shortening the fall
 
           4       bay shrimping season.  Shrimp spawning success
 
           5       may be improved by establishing closed
 
           6       shrimping areas south of Corpus Christi and by
 
           7       lengthening the winter Gulf closure.  And
 
           8       bycatch reduction devices together with area
 
           9       and seasonal closures will reduce unwanted
 
          10       shrimpers' unwanted catches of flounder
 
          11       croakers and crabs.  We are in favor or those
 
          12       regulations.
 
          13            Two proposed rules will have unintended
 
          14       consequences.  The proposal to restrict vessels
 
          15       to two trawls in 130 feet of head rope is
 
          16       near-shore waters is designed to reduce
 
          17       shrimping effort.  However, while certain
 
          18       near-shore vessels will be displaced, bay and
 
          19       gulf boats will quickly replace them.  The
 
          20       likely result will be steady or increasing
 
          21       effort and little or no benefit to shrimper
 
          22       bycatch.
 
          23            The proposal to establish a closed
 
          24       shrimping area south of Corpus Christi should
 
          25       help reduce bycatch of sea turtles in the
 
 
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           1       spring and summer months.  However, we are
 
           2       concerned that intense shrimping effort exerted
 
           3       when the season opens will result -- result in
 
           4       high strandings and increased chances for
 
           5       federal intervention under the Endangered
 
           6       Species Act.  We strongly recommend that the
 
           7       closed shrimping area be extended year around
 
           8       to prevent a spike in sea turtle strandings.
 
           9            Lastly, important problems still need to
 
          10       be addressed.  New rules and an expanded
 
          11       license buyback problem can result in benefits,
 
          12       but only temporarily because the rules do not
 
          13       alter the basic incentive to shrimp as
 
          14       intensively as possible before someone else
 
          15       catches the available shrimp.  To combat this
 
          16       incentive, we urge alternative form of
 
          17       management to allocate the harvest through
 
          18       individual transferrable quotas.
 
          19            We believe Texas Parks and Wildlife should
 
          20       take the lead toward building a healthy shrimp
 
          21       fishery in the Gulf of Mexico.
 
          22            Thank you for considering our comments.
 
          23                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you,
 
          24       Ms. Baker.  Richard Morrison.  And Teri Shore.
 
          25       Actually, I believe you spoke earlier,
 
 
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           1       Mr. Shore.  No?  I'm sorry if I'm confusing.
 
           2                 MR. MORRISON:  Mr. Chairman --
 
           3                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Be prepared to speak
 
           4       next.  And Richard Morrison.
 
           5                 MR. MORRISON:  Thank you,
 
           6       Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, Mr. Executive
 
           7       Director.  My name is Richard Morrison and I'm
 
           8       here speaking on behalf of the Calhoun County
 
           9       Shrimpers.  My comments today are really based
 
          10       upon the things that we've heard today from
 
          11       kind of the independent scientists that were
 
          12       invited to speak, specifically Dr. Gracia,
 
          13       Dr. Nance, and Dr. Zimmerman.  I want to first
 
          14       speak about what Dr. Gracia said about the near
 
          15       collapse of the shrimp fishery in Mexico and --
 
          16       and really analyze what he said there, why did
 
          17       it happen and why is Texas different and why --
 
          18       why it's not going to happen in Texas.
 
          19            First of all, the artisanal effort.  The
 
          20       bay shrimpers there were totally unregulated.
 
          21       Texas is so different.  The bay shrimpers in
 
          22       Texas are already regulated by the regulations
 
          23       that are currently in place.  Dr. Gracia
 
          24       explained that the shrimp were fully exploited
 
          25       since 1970.  Texas shrimp have not been fully
 
 
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           1       exploited since the early 1960s when the first
 
           2       regulations were passed to begin to regulate
 
           3       the shrimpers.  And the last thing he said, or
 
           4       another thing he said was that artisanal
 
           5       fishing has full access.  Well, once again,
 
           6       Texas has limited access that we passed in 1995
 
           7       that limits access to the bay shrimping
 
           8       industry.
 
           9            The second thing I want to talk about is
 
          10       some things that Dr. Nance and Dr. Zimmerman
 
          11       said.  If you listen to their comments, what
 
          12       they suggest to the Parks and Wildlife and to
 
          13       you commissioners is that your current
 
          14       regulations that you-all have been proposing,
 
          15       and specifically that started in the early '90s
 
          16       are a success.  The CPU since the early '90s
 
          17       has begun to rise.  An effort has come down
 
          18       some.
 
          19            Now -- Now, think about that.  In the
 
          20       early '90s, the CPU started to rise.  The early
 
          21       '90s is when the current regulations that the
 
          22       shrimpers have to deal with and that they do
 
          23       deal with, that's when those went into effect.
 
          24       Effort has come down some.  We've had a
 
          25       15 percent success in the buyback.  That has
 
 
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           1       reduced effort.  More buyback will reduce
 
           2       effort further.
 
           3            Give the regulations that are currently
 
           4       present, give that a chance to work.  They're
 
           5       working already.  We just heard Dr. Nance and
 
           6       Dr. Zimmerman say that CPU is rising and effort
 
           7       is down and that's what we're trying to get to
 
           8       here.  We're trying to get CPU to come up,
 
           9       effort to go down.  It's already happening.
 
          10            The last thing I want to address is the
 
          11       cost to the bay.  Vice Chairman Dinkins brought
 
          12       that up.  The cost to the bay shrimpers.  If
 
          13       you'll read Dr. Nance's article about the
 
          14       feasible of improving the economic return of
 
          15       the Gulf of Mexico brown shrimp industry,
 
          16       you'll see what Dr. Nance says in there, which
 
          17       is if you postpone catching the shrimp in the
 
          18       bay which allows those shrimp to grow and
 
          19       get -- and escape to the Gulf, that's going to
 
          20       allow the larger boats in the Gulf to catch
 
          21       larger shrimp.  That's going to be a big
 
          22       economic benefit to the people in the Gulf and
 
          23       it's going to be a huge economic detriment to
 
          24       the bay shrimpers.  It's in that peer-reviewed
 
          25       article that Dr. Nance authored.
 
 
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           1                 MR. SANSOM:  Thank you,
 
           2       Mr. Morrison, your time is up.
 
           3                 MR. MORRISON:  Thank you.
 
           4                 COMMISSIONER AVILA:  Mr. Martin
 
           5       (sic)?  Mr. Martin?
 
           6                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Morrison.
 
           7                 COMMISSIONER AVILA:  I have a
 
           8       question.  Do you have -- Do you have a number
 
           9       for the economic impact to the bay shrimper on
 
          10       that?
 
          11                 MR. MORRISON:  I was going to get my
 
          12       office to -- to fax me a copy of that article
 
          13       so I could quote the numbers to you,
 
          14       Commissioner, but it was -- I would -- I would
 
          15       hate -- hate to quote and it be the wrong
 
          16       number, sir --
 
          17                 COMMISSIONER AVILA:  Okay.
 
          18                 MR. MORRISON:  -- but I can sure send
 
          19       you a copy of that article.
 
          20                 COMMISSIONER AVILA:  Okay.  Thank
 
          21       you.
 
          22                 MR. MORRISSON:  Thank you.
 
          23                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Teri Shore.  And
 
          24       Janie Blevins, if you'd be prepared to speak
 
          25       next.
 
 
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           1                 MS. SHORE:  Good afternoon.  My name
 
           2       is Teri shore.  I'm with the Sea Turtle
 
           3       Restoration Project.  We'll an international
 
           4       conservation and advocacy group for sea turtles
 
           5       and marine biodiversity in the United States
 
           6       and around the world.
 
           7            Good afternoon, Chairman Bass,
 
           8       Commissioners, and Director Sansom.  Appreciate
 
           9       the time and effort that has gone into the
 
          10       review of the shrimp regulations, and in
 
          11       particular, I urge the Commission to vote
 
          12       tomorrow to support the original proposals that
 
          13       were made by Texas Parks and Wildlife
 
          14       Department, in particular, the no shrimping
 
          15       zone along the South Texas coast out to five
 
          16       nautical miles.  You have the science that
 
          17       they've -- backs up these proposals.  There's
 
          18       little doubt about that.  You have the public
 
          19       support and Texas can also prove to be a leader
 
          20       in protecting the biodiversity of their state
 
          21       by adopting these measures tomorrow and not
 
          22       waiting.  In particular I would like to thank
 
          23       Hal Osburn for his bold vision in these matters
 
          24       and putting these issues on the table.
 
          25            I would also like to show the Commission
 
 
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           1       an ad that we did, in fact, publish.  For the
 
           2       past two years, we have been asking
 
           3       Governor Bush to intervene on behalf of the
 
           4       endangered sea turtles and to create a marine
 
           5       reserve, and we believe that these efforts have
 
           6       resulted in the Department's proposal for a
 
           7       no-shrimping zone.  And this ad says, Will
 
           8       Governor Bush save the sea turtles dying on
 
           9       Texas beaches?  And I'd just like to read a
 
          10       little bit from this ad.  It says, more
 
          11       critically endangered adult Kemp's Ridley sea
 
          12       turtles are killed on the Texas Coast than
 
          13       anywhere else on Earth mainly because 2,000
 
          14       shrimp boats are dragging their nets just off
 
          15       Gulf coast beaches.
 
          16            After careful study, the Texas Parks and
 
          17       Wildlife Department has proposing -- has
 
          18       proposed closing South Texas to shrimping near
 
          19       shore.
 
          20            And that's very important.  And we hope
 
          21       that if you do adopt these measures that we
 
          22       will be able to announce this good news to the
 
          23       press and to give Governor Bush his due,
 
          24       because I do believe he's been involved in this
 
          25       process as we go along.
 
 
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           1            I also would like to invite you to stop by
 
           2       the state capitol.  We have on display more
 
           3       than 100 pieces of artwork from children around
 
           4       Texas and the United States who would really
 
           5       like to see you do the right thing for the
 
           6       Kemp's Ridley sea turtle and protect their
 
           7       nesting area along the South Texas coast.  And
 
           8       I would like to distribute a press release and
 
           9       information about the art contest for your
 
          10       review.  Thank you very much.
 
          11                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you,
 
          12       Ms. Shore.  Janie Blevins, I see that you're
 
          13       marked as wishing to observe only, but Wesley
 
          14       Blevins would like to speak.  So if that's
 
          15       still the case, would Wesley please come
 
          16       forward.  And Pete Aparicio, please be prepared
 
          17       to speak next.
 
          18                 MR. BLEVINS:  Mr. Commissioner and
 
          19       Chairman, my name is Wesley Blevins and I
 
          20       represent the Calhoun County Texas Shrimpers.
 
          21       In our area, which is San Antonio Bay,
 
          22       Matagorda Bay, and Aransas Bay System, we have
 
          23       probably the largest amount of closed waters in
 
          24       the state in the bays.  We already have our
 
          25       areas in Heinzer's Bay, Mission Bay, Shoal
 
 
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           1       Waters St. Charles, Copano, Powderhorn Lake,
 
           2       Turtle Bay, Chocolate Bay, Keller's, Cox's,
 
           3       Barroom, Pat's Bay, Pringle Lake, Twin Lakes,
 
           4       Tyler Lake, Cedar Lake, Panther Point Lake,
 
           5       Sundown, McMullen, Large Boggy, and Carancahua
 
           6       Bay, 30 miles of Victoria Barge Canal, and all
 
           7       the waters of Lavaca Bay north of Highway 35
 
           8       and the freshwater inflow in our bays is real
 
           9       important, and we need to get some of that
 
          10       changed.  Parks and Wildlife can help us.
 
          11            And I'll go on.  Areas closed by Texas
 
          12       motr and Wildlife are all imaginary boundaries,
 
          13       and in San Antonio Bay, the line would be five
 
          14       miles long.  How would this be enforced?
 
          15       Industry knows problems with nonenforcement
 
          16       laws that pertain to the shrimp limited entry
 
          17       program.  If enforced, shrimp production would
 
          18       go down, and the problem is industry knows what
 
          19       if problem is.  TPWD knows what the problem is
 
          20       for the last four years.  All the paper-sliding
 
          21       and everything else that's gone on on the
 
          22       boats.  Illegal upgrades and get down to the
 
          23       bycatch reduction devices are nothing but
 
          24       porpoise-feeding devices is all they are.  And
 
          25       why punish one side of the industry and let the
 
 
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           1       other side of the industry target to buy a
 
           2       catch, which is the Atlantic croaker?
 
           3            And see I still got some time left.  And
 
           4       also, we feel that that $300 increase on our
 
           5       license is totally unfair.  Gulf shrimpers is
 
           6       only going to have one increase, which is $100
 
           7       on Gulf licenses, but the bay shrimpers, they
 
           8       buy all three license:  They bait, bay, and
 
           9       Gulf, and we already spend over about
 
          10       1300-and-something dollars a year on licenses,
 
          11       and we feel like that you-all should look at a
 
          12       lot of that.
 
          13            And we're totally against all of these
 
          14       proposals.  And we had a talk with some of the
 
          15       TSA members outside and there was a remark
 
          16       made earlier that TSA supports all of the
 
          17       regulations that's against the bay.  That's not
 
          18       so.
 
          19            And anyhow, we would appreciate it if
 
          20       you-all would really look into all of this
 
          21       stuff.  And that's all about I got right now.
 
          22       Thank you.
 
          23                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you
 
          24       Mr. Blevins.  Pete Aparicio.  And Thomas
 
          25       Lambright if you'd be prepared to speak next.
 
 
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           1                 MR. APARICIO:  Thank you,
 
           2       Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission.  I
 
           3       want to thank you for allowing me to address
 
           4       the Commission.  My name is Pete Aparicio.  I
 
           5       live I Victoria, Texas, and for 28 years I've
 
           6       been involved in the commercial shrimp business
 
           7       operating in the Gulf waters only.  I'm also
 
           8       chairman of the Shrimp Management Committee of
 
           9       the Gulf of Mexico Fishery and Management
 
          10       Council.  Members of that committee include all
 
          11       but one of the five state's fishery directors
 
          12       and including our friend, Hal Osburn, from our
 
          13       own state.  It also includes the -- the
 
          14       executive director of the -- or the director of
 
          15       the south -- southeast region of the National
 
          16       Marine Fishery Service.
 
          17            I will repeat once again that the health
 
          18       of the shrimp stocks is excellent throughout
 
          19       the Gulf and in Texas contrary to the false
 
          20       premise upon which the proposed regulations are
 
          21       based.
 
          22            I want to direct my remarks at an area
 
          23       that has not been visited, at least to the
 
          24       extent that it should have, and that is the
 
          25       economic impact on these changes, that these
 
 
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           1       changes will have on our coastal community.
 
           2            I remind -- I want to direct -- I begin by
 
           3       reminding all that the Texas Parks and Wildlife
 
           4       Department was created, empowered, and is
 
           5       funded by the taxpayers of the state of Texas
 
           6       and not by any of the proponents and/or
 
           7       supporters of any of the proposals; not by the
 
           8       Sierra Club, not by the Gulf Restoration
 
           9       Network, not by HEART, not by Earth Island
 
          10       Institute, nor by any other environmental
 
          11       organization and not by the CCA.  It then
 
          12       follows in my opinion that the management of
 
          13       the -- of the fishery resources should be for
 
          14       the benefit of these taxpayers and not the
 
          15       organizations based in San Francisco and
 
          16       elsewhere that contribute zero, but want to
 
          17       be -- benefit from our coastal areas and from
 
          18       public money to establish their pet projects.
 
          19            These regulations will impact only the
 
          20       commercial shrimp fishing industry.  If
 
          21       shrimp -- shrimping areas are closed or reduced
 
          22       it will negatively affect the industry's
 
          23       ability to provide the tax dollars needed to
 
          24       sustain the communities in which they live.
 
          25       The commercial shrimp boats are, with very
 
 
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           1       exceptions, the only vessels in Texas which pay
 
           2       property taxes.  This can be as high as $10,000
 
           3       per vessel per year.  These taxes are paid the
 
           4       city, county, navigation districts and school
 
           5       and hospital districts.  As I speak, the only
 
           6       hospital west of the Colorado River in
 
           7       Matagorda County in Palacios is about to
 
           8       close.  Probably tomorrow will be the end of
 
           9       it.  And I wonder if there's anything in the
 
          10       proposals that might help these taxpayers in
 
          11       that community.  Do the proponents of these
 
          12       changes even care?  The city of Palacios
 
          13       receives of 25 percent of its total tax
 
          14       revenues from the ship boat and port
 
          15       operations.  Without this revenue, the future
 
          16       looks bleak for this and other fishing
 
          17       communities.  It is also noteworthy --
 
          18                 MR. SANSOM:  Thank you, Mr. Aparicio.
 
          19                 MR. APARICIO:  I'm sorry?
 
          20                 MR. SANSOM:  Thank you very much.
 
          21                 MR. APARICIO:  Okay.
 
          22                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you,
 
          23       Mr. Aparicio.
 
          24                 MR. APARICIO:  I'd like to give you
 
          25       this.
 
 
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           1                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Yes.  Please do.
 
           2            Thomas Lambright.  And James Davenport, if
 
           3       you'd be prepared to speak next.
 
           4                 MR. LAMBRIGHT:  Commission, I'm
 
           5       Thomas Lambright.  I'm a bay and gulf shrimper
 
           6       from Port O'Connor and I'm here representing
 
           7       the -- representing the shrimpers from Calhoun
 
           8       County, and I was a little bit upset wherever
 
           9       we -- we found out that we wouldn't get to
 
          10       speak before the Regulations Committee this
 
          11       morning.  Calhoun County had no one
 
          12       representing us at that commission meeting this
 
          13       morning, we're part of the system whether
 
          14       you-all realize it or not, and not -- I was a
 
          15       little upset and so was some of my people from
 
          16       down there.
 
          17            My main point that I want to make is we're
 
          18       against all these regulations, which I think
 
          19       you already know that, Mr. Osburn and
 
          20       Mr. Sansom and them do.  And my main point that
 
          21       I want to make is on these bycatch reduction
 
          22       devices.  You've got a deletion in there for
 
          23       bait boats, that they don't have to pull the
 
          24       bycatch reduction device.
 
          25            And under federal law, they don't have to
 
 
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           1       pull a turtle shooter providing they don't have
 
           2       over 32 pounds of shrimp, dead shrimp on the
 
           3       boat.  As long as they kind of keep everything
 
           4       alive, in a live condition in live bait boxes.
 
           5            They don't have to pull a turtle shooter,
 
           6       and now the state is going to give them the
 
           7       opportunity not to pull a bycatch reduction
 
           8       device.  Now, what's the difference bycatch
 
           9       reductions -- a bycatch if I catch it and
 
          10       bycatch if they catch it?
 
          11            You're going to -- You're going to let the
 
          12       bait shrimpers not pull a bycatch reduction
 
          13       device so that they can target the Atlantic
 
          14       croaker to sell to the tourists, but you're
 
          15       going to make me as a commercial shrimper pull
 
          16       one so that I can release this Atlantic
 
          17       croakers and the bycatch, you know, so that
 
          18       they can target it.
 
          19            I mean, that makes a -- I think
 
          20       Mr. Collins with the TSA said this at the --
 
          21       our April meeting and it makes a lot of sense.
 
          22       You know, we got turn these fish loose so the
 
          23       other people can catch them and sell them to
 
          24       the tourists.  Now, where's the justification
 
          25       in that?  And it makes no sense to me at all.
 
 
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           1            You know, if I got to call a bycatch
 
           2       reduction device and release a bycatch -- And I
 
           3       don't want the bycatch.  That creates my -- my
 
           4       labor.  It creates more work on my boat.  It
 
           5       creates more strain on my equipment and all
 
           6       this kind of stuff.
 
           7            I have a bycatch reduction device and I
 
           8       can put it in in five minutes.  You know, if I
 
           9       get in fish where they're so bad that I can't
 
          10       handle them, I'll put the bycatch reduction
 
          11       device in.  And they work.  Yeah, I lose
 
          12       shrimp, but the thing is don't be telling me
 
          13       that I got to pull a bycatch reduction device
 
          14       and the bait shrimper doesn't have to pull
 
          15       one.  I'm going to release these croakers and
 
          16       bait fish so that he can go target them.
 
          17            You know, where's the -- where's the
 
          18       quality, or, you know, the justification for
 
          19       this law?  There is none.  You know, if we've
 
          20       got to all reduce bycatch and -- and try to
 
          21       conserve this stuff, we need to all pull them,
 
          22       you know, and not just -- Don't -- Don't pick
 
          23       on one sanction -- faction of the industry.
 
          24       You know, let's -- let's do it equally for
 
          25       everybody.
 
 
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           1            And the other thing is, like Mr. Blevins
 
           2       said, we have the largest amount of sanctuaries
 
           3       in Calhoun County, in Matagorda County, and
 
           4       neighboring Aransas County.  And whenever this
 
           5       was put in, I can't remember normal the year
 
           6       that it was put in, I was instrumental in
 
           7       getting this done.  I was instrumental in
 
           8       getting Powderhorn Lake, Lavaca Bay,
 
           9       Carancahua, Keller's Bay, Cox Bay, Chocolate
 
          10       Bay, and all of them closed --
 
          11                 MR. SANSOM:  Thank you, sir.
 
          12                 MR. LAMBRIGHT:  -- because I felt
 
          13       like -- Thank you.
 
          14                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  James Davenport.  And
 
          15       Sinclair Oubre, if you'd be prepared to speak
 
          16       next.
 
          17                 MR. DAVENPORT:  Thank you,
 
          18       Mr. Chairman, Ladies and gentlemen of the
 
          19       Commission, Mr. Sansom, I'm James Davenport and
 
          20       I come here representing the Calhoun County
 
          21       Texas Shrimpers.  Commissioners, Chairman, I
 
          22       worry about this bycatch.  We listen to motr
 
          23       and Wildlife.  We're catching they say four
 
          24       pounds of bycatch to one pound of shrimp.
 
          25       Well, generally, we as an industry, we are
 
 
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           1       concerned.  You-all told us years ago we need
 
           2       to be worried about bycatch.  Well, we got
 
           3       worried about it.  We've been working on it.
 
           4       We have an ongoing of John O'Connor from
 
           5       Texas A&M.  It's been going on for -- since
 
           6       1997, '98.  He comes up -- to take it, short he
 
           7       comes with the spring and fall season with the
 
           8       total of -- of 1.5 bycatch.  The total of it
 
           9       is .98 bycatch to one pound of shrimp and .47
 
          10       of other inverts.  So there is a difference.
 
          11            One -- one point in here I'm trying to
 
          12       make you is the study that motr and Wildlife
 
          13       done, that's not so all the time.  Things
 
          14       change.  Things change.  It's not -- It's not
 
          15       every day that we catch four pounds.  This is
 
          16       two-year study here, and it's ongoing now still
 
          17       today.  We plan on keeping it going.  We praise
 
          18       John O'Connor for his time and Texas A&M.
 
          19            Okay.  I would like to say that we are --
 
          20       you already heard -- we are against every --
 
          21       everything on this proposal.
 
          22            I'd like to say something about the -- the
 
          23       license increase.  I was up there at the
 
          24       meetings in Lake Jackson and I did bring this
 
          25       up.  Why -- Why -- Why make us, as Mr. Blevins
 
 
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           1       said, you know, we're paying -- we're paying
 
           2       already 1300-something dollars and you're going
 
           3       to add $100 in the next five years.  That's
 
           4       quite a bit of difference, you know.  We got a
 
           5       burden now in the bay we're so restricted.
 
           6            But the federal government has money back
 
           7       there for -- for buyback programs and in
 
           8       New England, they gave $130 million.  And in
 
           9       Washington state, they gave $12.8 million.  In
 
          10       Alaska -- I'm sorry.  Yeah, it's Alaska
 
          11       $130 million and $24 million in New England.
 
          12       So there -- There is -- The government supports
 
          13       buyback program.  They go as far as say the
 
          14       buyback program does not work unless it
 
          15       prohibits boat -- prohibits boats from entering
 
          16       the -- the fishery.  Well, that's what our
 
          17       buyback program does.  It is working, ladies
 
          18       and gentlemen.  It is working.
 
          19            I feel like we're doing our share as the
 
          20       industry.  I really believe we do.  I would
 
          21       like -- I would like to sit here and say, point
 
          22       to somebody and say, Hey, you're the problem of
 
          23       this -- of this issue.  It's not that way.
 
          24       Everybody causes a problem.  When you get in
 
          25       your car, crank it up, you cause a problem.
 
 
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           1       When we go out and vote, sure, we cause a
 
           2       problem.
 
           3            Okay.  I'm out of time.  I look forward in
 
           4       speaking to you-all tomorrow.  Thank you for
 
           5       your time.
 
           6                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.  Sinclair
 
           7       Oubre, Port Arthur?  I'm know I'm getting this
 
           8       name wrong.
 
           9            C.L. Standley.  I got that one right.  And
 
          10       let's see.  If Benny Gallaway would be prepared
 
          11       to speak next.
 
          12                   MR. STANDLEY: Thank you,
 
          13       Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission, my
 
          14       name is C.L. Standley.  I'm chairman of the
 
          15       Shrimp Advisory Committee.  I've got the blue
 
          16       book and a stack of cards and I'm not going to
 
          17       speak from either one.  Something that's been
 
          18       discussed and batted around and I want to point
 
          19       out from a different perspective and that's
 
          20       the -- regarding the sea turtle issue.
 
          21            The Texas Gulf Shrimp Fishery is estimated
 
          22       it's costing that industry approximately
 
          23       $35 million per year to pull turtle excluder
 
          24       devices.  In the bay we don't have a figure
 
          25       that we've arrived at, but it's probably
 
 
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           1       percentage-wise somewhat comparable in relation
 
           2       to the catch.  But the industry is pay he price
 
           3       for it.  Other user groups are not.
 
           4            Nation Marine Fisheries has on file -- I
 
           5       was told this by a National Marine Scientist
 
           6       ten years ago and is verified within the last
 
           7       few weeks by other agency personnel -- they
 
           8       have on file information buried very deep, but
 
           9       it's there that the Recreational Fishery is
 
          10       responsible for more strandings of turtles
 
          11       along the Texas coast than all other stranding
 
          12       sources, including shrimp trawls combined, and
 
          13       that number may be twice the standings.  That's
 
          14       National Marine Fisheries' figures.  It's not
 
          15       something I'm pulling out of the air.  Now,
 
          16       laying your hands on it might not be that easy,
 
          17       but it's there.  I don't know if I'd know how
 
          18       to find it, but there are people that are.
 
          19            But that's one of the things that is being
 
          20       ignored by a number of people.  And a statement
 
          21       this morning that every -- every group that
 
          22       contribute to a problem should bear some
 
          23       responsibility for it, well, if this -- this is
 
          24       the case, then we're closing waters to protect
 
          25       the sea turtle, then should it not be closed to
 
 
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           1       all the user groups that contribute to the
 
           2       problem?
 
           3            And I would say the same thing to nursery
 
           4       areas, that nursery areas in the bay are just
 
           5       that, and they're not nursery areas for just
 
           6       shrimp, they're nursery areas for other things,
 
           7       also, and should it not be considered as a
 
           8       reason to shut those areas down to other
 
           9       activities that are impacting them, also.
 
          10       Thank you.
 
          11                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Mr. Standley, could
 
          12       you clarify something for me?  You reference
 
          13       that -- that NMFS has data relating to
 
          14       recreational strandings of -- of --
 
          15                 MR. STANDLEY:  Yes, sir.  That's --
 
          16       That --
 
          17                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  -- turtles.  Can you
 
          18       tell me --
 
          19                 MR. STANDLEY:  That's what I -- what
 
          20       I've been told.  I have not seen the data.
 
          21       That's what I've been told by their
 
          22       scientists --
 
          23                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Okay.  So --
 
          24                 MR. STANDLEY:  -- that it is
 
          25       available.
 
 
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           1                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  And can you tell me
 
           2       who in NMFS has told you this?
 
           3                 MR. STANDLEY:  Well -- Oh, ten years
 
           4       ago?  No, sir.  I couldn't for sure.
 
           5                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Okay.  Thank you.
 
           6                 MR. STANDLEY:  Thank you.
 
           7                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Benny Gallaway.  And
 
           8       Joseph Vu -- Vu, if you'd be prepared to speak
 
           9       next.
 
          10                 MR. GALLAWAY:  Mr. Chairman, members
 
          11       of the Commission, I thank you for allowing me
 
          12       to speak.  I'm Benny Gallaway.  I have a Ph.D.
 
          13       from Texas A&M University.  For the last
 
          14       26 years, I've been president of a private
 
          15       ecological consult -- consulting company.  I
 
          16       have some 99 publications in the peer-reviewed
 
          17       literature.  For the last six years I've worked
 
          18       on bycatch, sea turtle and red snapper in
 
          19       particular issues in the Gulf of Mexico.  My
 
          20       paper on bycatch reduction device is published
 
          21       in the Journal of North American Fisheries
 
          22       Management was voted best paper in the Journal
 
          23       for 1999.
 
          24            I advise Texas Shrimp Association on
 
          25       biological issues.  I do not make policy or
 
 
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           1       recommend policy to them.  I consult with
 
           2       them.  I came to this meeting as an observer,
 
           3       but after hearing the presentations this
 
           4       morning, felt like I might say a few words, and
 
           5       you give me the opportunity so I'll do it.
 
           6            You heard the -- It appears that there is
 
           7       consensus that there is growth overfishing on
 
           8       Gulf of Mexico shrimp stocks, and as yet, there
 
           9       is no recruit overfishing that -- I heard
 
          10       agreement between both the state and the
 
          11       federal government on that issue.
 
          12            There's a couple of things you need to
 
          13       consider and questions you should be asking, in
 
          14       my opinion.  First of all, you have to consider
 
          15       the shrimp stocks in the Gulf of Mexico as a
 
          16       single stock.  You can't index the status of
 
          17       that stock with fisheries' independent data
 
          18       from one part of the range.  You have to look
 
          19       at the whole -- the whole stock, as does
 
          20       National Marine Fishery Service in its stock
 
          21       assessment.
 
          22            The questions I think you should be asking
 
          23       is, Okay, we've got growth overfishing.  Where
 
          24       are we relative to recruit overfishing and
 
          25       which direction are we headed?  It seems a
 
 
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           1       reasonable question.  That question is answered
 
           2       in the NMFS stock assessment.  The -- Your --
 
           3       When I asked Dr. Nance, How far are you away
 
           4       from that, he said, Far.
 
           5                 I said, How far?
 
           6                 And he said, Well, look at the
 
           7       numbers in the stock assessment.
 
           8                 The numbers in the stock assessment
 
           9       show that by a factor of two to 2 1/2 below the
 
          10       level that would be considered the recruit
 
          11       overfishing threshold.  There's not an
 
          12       urgency.  The stock is not in imminent danger
 
          13       and collapse.  Which direction are we headed?
 
          14            Growth overfishing is signified by a
 
          15       combination of two things usually:  One is
 
          16       declining size in the catch and declining
 
          17       catch per unit of effort, those two things
 
          18       declining.  Catch per unit effort over the past
 
          19       ten years has been increasing, as you heard,
 
          20       and is reflected in the stock as a whole in
 
          21       those data.  Size has stabilized.  So we're not
 
          22       moving towards recruit overfishing based upon
 
          23       those data and that definition of overfishing.
 
          24            The next thing I'd like to share with you
 
          25       I don't think I'll have time, but I'm do it
 
 
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           1       anyway.  In 1994, I propose a gear restriction
 
           2       proposal for near-shore zone for Texas as a
 
           3       solution to the sea turtle stranding problem.
 
           4                 MR. SANSOM:  Thank you, sir.  Your
 
           5       time is up.
 
           6                 MR. GALLAWAY:  And we'll talk about
 
           7       it tomorrow afternoon.  Thanks.
 
           8                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  We'll be here.
 
           9            Joseph Vu?  Not -- Not going to speak?
 
          10       Okay.  Thank you.
 
          11            Charles Burnell, Brownsville?  Russell
 
          12       Knight (sic), Port Aransas.
 
          13                 MR. MIGET:  Here.  No Charles?  No
 
          14       Charles?
 
          15                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  No Charles.  Russell
 
          16       Knight.  And if Jose Ramirez will be prepared
 
          17       to speak next.
 
          18            The floor is yours.
 
          19                 MR. MIGET:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
 
          20       My name is Russell Miget.  I won't spell --
 
          21                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  I'm sorry.
 
          22                 MR. MIGET:  -- write very well
 
          23       either.
 
          24            I, for the last 25 years, have worked for
 
          25       Texas A&M as a -- marine advisory program as a
 
 
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           1       fishery specialist, environmental quality
 
           2       specialist, but I want to make it clear today
 
           3       that I'm here speaking for myself, certainly
 
           4       not for Texas A&M or the extension service or
 
           5       advisory service, but I feel those experience
 
           6       perhaps gives me some insight.
 
           7            I guess we should have done a thing in
 
           8       tandem here.  You know, because this has been a
 
           9       work in progress, what I was going say because
 
          10       about the time you're prepared to say
 
          11       something, somebody else already said it.
 
          12            So basically what I want to do is, you
 
          13       know, first of all reemphasize that -- that I
 
          14       was delighted to hear the National Marine
 
          15       Fishery Service people say what we've said in
 
          16       public testimony, which by the way, you have my
 
          17       public written testimony from the Bay City
 
          18       Public Hearing, what we've been saying all
 
          19       along and that is that -- that there is not a
 
          20       recruitment overfishing problem in shrimp.
 
          21            Now, what came up today was is -- is
 
          22       there -- First of all, in my mind is there
 
          23       growth overfishing?  A colleague of mine
 
          24       just -- just said there's a consensus on that,
 
          25       and that's kind of what I want to address here
 
 
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           1       today.  And -- And if there is, does that, in
 
           2       fact, lead on sort of a continuum into
 
           3       recruitment overfishing and I think there's
 
           4       certainly biological question there as well.
 
           5            Now, if you listen to the -- our colleague
 
           6       from Mexico, certainly if we allow small mesh
 
           7       nets to be stretched across every inlet and
 
           8       pass in the state of Texas, we're going to have
 
           9       a growth overfishing problem that leads to a
 
          10       recruitment overfishing problem.  That's not
 
          11       the case.
 
          12            What I would like to -- to talk about just
 
          13       briefly and start out and just, if I could,
 
          14       with your indulgence read you a quick
 
          15       definition out of a fishery book here on growth
 
          16       overfishing:  A level of fishing in which young
 
          17       recruits entering the fishery are caught before
 
          18       they grow to an optimum marketable size; a
 
          19       level beyond that required to maximize yield in
 
          20       (our value per recruit).
 
          21            And I read this to you because it's very
 
          22       important because, you know, we've -- we've
 
          23       heard comparisons of the shrimp fishery, you
 
          24       know, being compared with the cod, collapse of
 
          25       the cod fishery.  Well, shrimp are very
 
 
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           1       different.  There's one-year life cycle and so
 
           2       forth.
 
           3            And I'm running out of time, and what I
 
           4       really wanted to tell you, aside from the fact
 
           5       that you need to sort out that kind of growth
 
           6       overfishing is that a study that we've just
 
           7       initiated a year ago with about 50 vessels from
 
           8       the Valley where they've actually turned over
 
           9       their financial records to us where we're
 
          10       looking at the cost of producing shrimp
 
          11       indicates that in the Gulf of Mexico over a
 
          12       12-year period, it costs about 90 to 95 cents
 
          13       to produce a dollar's worth of shrimp.
 
          14            That's -- Those are the numbers we have.
 
          15       We've moving up the coast.  We're going to move
 
          16       around the coast.  The point is, you know, I --
 
          17       I -- I beg you-all to -- to look at these
 
          18       proposed regulations based on the facts, not on
 
          19       hearsay, not on sound bites, not on too many
 
          20       shrimp.
 
          21                 MR. SANSOM:  Thank you, sir.  Your
 
          22       time is up.
 
          23                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Excuse me.  Was
 
          24       that 95 cents to catch a dollar's worth?
 
          25                 MR. MIGET:  Yes, sir, that's
 
 
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           1       correct.  Yes, sir.  Thank you.
 
           2                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  A 5 percent margin.
 
           3       Jose Ramirez.  And Caroline Beltran, if you'd
 
           4       be prepared to speak next.
 
           5                 MR. RAMIREZ:  Mr. Chairman, members
 
           6       of the Committee, my name is Jose Antonio
 
           7       Ramirez.  I live in Tampico, Mexico, having
 
           8       been involved in the shrimp industry for ten --
 
           9       thirteen years as a second generation
 
          10       shrimper.  My father was president of the
 
          11       Shrimp Association of the Americas,
 
          12       participated in the business since 1950.  I've
 
          13       had the honor twice to preside the National
 
          14       Industrial Fisheries Chamber of Mexico and have
 
          15       been a local congressman.
 
          16            Back in 1992, following the passage of a
 
          17       new federal fishing law by congress in Mexico
 
          18       private capital reentered the exploitation of
 
          19       shrimp.  Along with our preoccupation to invest
 
          20       in new technologies in fishing vessels came our
 
          21       great concern for proper management of
 
          22       commercial shrimp fishing.
 
          23            It was evident at the time that there were
 
          24       serious threats to shrimp fisheries both along
 
          25       the gulf and Pacific coast mostly emanating
 
 
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           1       from a very lax approach by the Mexican
 
           2       government to resource management and an almost
 
           3       nonexistent law enforcement.  For example,
 
           4       successful shrimp fishing grounds in the state
 
           5       of Campeche were nearly depleted due to illegal
 
           6       fishing by thousands of small boats using very
 
           7       aggressive drift nets.  Mr. Adolfo Gracia, a
 
           8       good friend of mine, had done extensive
 
           9       research in the area at the time and can attest
 
          10       to this.
 
          11            As an example of the poor management and
 
          12       low -- and poor law enforcement procedures by
 
          13       our government, 700 permits were issued at the
 
          14       time for these small boats and nearly 5,000
 
          15       were operating.  Landings are down to about
 
          16       500,000 pounds year and that's mostly due to
 
          17       poaching.
 
          18            We knew in 1993 that if our investment was
 
          19       to have any chance for long-term success,
 
          20       strict management and law enforcement measures
 
          21       needed to be imposed.  Closures had been in
 
          22       practice on the Pacific Coast and we also saw
 
          23       the experience of the Texas closures at the
 
          24       time.
 
          25            Therefore, in 1993, we requested the
 
 
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           1       Mexican federal government to establish three
 
           2       resource management measures.  One was the
 
           3       two-month closure on commercial fishing along
 
           4       the Veracruz and Tamaulipas to coincide as much
 
           5       as possible with the Texas closure on brown
 
           6       shrimp.  The second one is a permanent closure
 
           7       from zero to five fathoms along the whole coast
 
           8       of Mexico.  And the third one is the closure of
 
           9       a 50-mile strip along the Yucatan Peninsula to
 
          10       prevent the small boats from catching juvenile
 
          11       shrimp.
 
          12            Due to our insistence on strict law
 
          13       enforcement the initial results of these
 
          14       closures were very evident with a recognizable
 
          15       increase in landings of brown shrimp.  However,
 
          16       do you to political considerations, law
 
          17       enforcement was purposely lax on illegal
 
          18       fishing from small boats and it remains so
 
          19       until today.
 
          20            During the past five years, law
 
          21       enforcement has been poor, and in some cases,
 
          22       nonexistent.  In general, the production of
 
          23       shrimp in the Gulf of Mexico for our fleet is
 
          24       steadily dropping.  In the lagunas and along
 
          25       zero and five fathoms zone thousands of small
 
 
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           1       boats continue to practice illegal fishing.  As
 
           2       an example, to date there are 2500 permits
 
           3       allowed Laguna Madre for charangas, which is a
 
           4       fixed net -- a fixed net device.  There are
 
           5       more than 5,000 operating along with dragging
 
           6       in the Laguna and the use of butterfly-type
 
           7       nets at the mouth of the channels.
 
           8            Importantly, the quality of data collected
 
           9       is very poor.  What I'm trying to say is that
 
          10       the collapse of the fisheries in Mexico is due
 
          11       to a nonexistent law enforcement effort.  In my
 
          12       opinion, although on paper the conservation and
 
          13       law enforcement measures in Mexico look very
 
          14       much in line with responsible fishing
 
          15       technol -- philosophy, in practice, the story
 
          16       is different.
 
          17            I recommend that the Mexican experience
 
          18       not be used as any sort of benchmark for the
 
          19       implementation of --
 
          20                 UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:  That light has
 
          21       been on --
 
          22                 MR. RAMIREZ:  -- shrimp management
 
          23       measures.
 
          24                 UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:  -- over a
 
          25       minute.
 
 
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           1                 MR. SANSOM:  Thank you, Dr. Ramirez.
 
           2                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I'd like to
 
           3       hear --
 
           4                 UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:  Everybody
 
           5       should have the same amount of time.
 
           6                 MR. RAMIREZ:  In essence, what we
 
           7       have done by insisting on the implementation of
 
           8       such conservation measures is to create
 
           9       exclusive fishing areas for poachers, placing
 
          10       the commercial shrimp fishing fleet at a
 
          11       tremendous disadvantage and near the point of
 
          12       collapse.  Thank you.
 
          13                 VICE-CHAIR DINKINS:  Thank you,
 
          14       Mr. Ramirez.  Caroline Beltran from
 
          15       Port Isabel?  Maria Delgado from Port Isabel?
 
          16       Philip Lara?  Guadalupe Lopez from Port
 
          17       Isabel?
 
          18                 MR. LARA:  I'd like to talk to you
 
          19       guys about --
 
          20                 VICE-CHAIR DINKINS:  Would you
 
          21       introduce yourself, please.
 
          22                 MR. LARA:  I'm Philip Lara out of
 
          23       Corpus Christi --
 
          24                 VICE-CHAIR DINKINS:  Thank you.
 
          25                 MR. LARA:  -- and the owner of Bay
 
 
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           1       King Seafood.  I'm a commercial shrimper,
 
           2       commercial fishermen, I'm a wholesaler, I'm a
 
           3       retailer.  I'm 38 years old.  I've got a wife,
 
           4       I've got three kids, and I'm knee deep in this
 
           5       business.  I made the comment jokingly to my
 
           6       wife today, should I wear a suit or come as I
 
           7       am, come to you as I am?
 
           8            We talk about endangered species and I
 
           9       want you guys to take a good look at me.  I'm
 
          10       the endangered species.  I'm the man that's on
 
          11       the way out.
 
          12            Mr. Watson, I've had the honor of having
 
          13       you on my boat before.  You and Hal Osburn were
 
          14       on my boat before.  We looked at bycatch that
 
          15       was on my boat the day I came in.  Our nets
 
          16       fish clean.  If you set your net to fish right,
 
          17       you have no bycatch.  In sampling of you guys
 
          18       to get the data, you use no tickler chain.  We
 
          19       shrimp with the tickler chain.  It's very
 
          20       important where a tickler chain is at.  I run
 
          21       my tickler chain maybe three times a day
 
          22       because it stretches, but the data that you
 
          23       have has been told many a times that it's not
 
          24       the actual data that we have.  The truth of the
 
          25       matter is is that we're in the best shrimp year
 
 
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           1       that we have.  The Gulf is doing great, and it
 
           2       seems like, you know, we're pinpointing one
 
           3       single user group.  If we want to close down
 
           4       the beach during a season let's close it down
 
           5       to seismographic, let's close it down to
 
           6       traveling on the high -- on the beach with the
 
           7       vehicles, let's close it down to the tourists,
 
           8       let's close it down to the construction, let's
 
           9       close it down to everything, you know?
 
          10            If you want a bycatch device on my big
 
          11       net, why are we allowing a croaker run or a
 
          12       golden croaker season to be expanded?  We
 
          13       talked about that already.
 
          14            I did my own experiment.  I don't know if
 
          15       you-all believe it or not, but I tied a bag
 
          16       onto my -- my fish shooter.  I have a fish
 
          17       shooter on my net prepared for when we finally
 
          18       get into fish.  I get nothing but shrimp inside
 
          19       that every single time.
 
          20            You talk about license increase.  Your
 
          21       license increase is going to kill me.  I'm
 
          22       proud to say I'm the first man that just
 
          23       transferred a finfish license into my name and
 
          24       I've worked with the legislation and they have
 
          25       common sense, and you do, too, you guys
 
 
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           1       understand.  But the point that I'm saying here
 
           2       is we talk about an increase in license fees,
 
           3       okay?  As many licenses as I hold, I'm not
 
           4       going to be -- I won't say afford it.  I won't
 
           5       be able to simply buy health insurance.  Right
 
           6       now my wife is sick.  I have no health
 
           7       insurance.  I'm stuck.  I make too much for
 
           8       Medicaid.  I don't make enough for health
 
           9       insurance.  I'm stuck.  I'm stuck in a Catch-22
 
          10       situation and I ask you guys to do what the
 
          11       Shrimp Advisory said, let the system work the
 
          12       way it did.  It said, Let's take a break, let's
 
          13       look back at it.  Caught us at our busiest
 
          14       season.  God know how much money I'm losing
 
          15       today just being here.
 
          16            But you know what?  I believe it works
 
          17       because I believe that the finfish bill changed
 
          18       in a way that was made workable.  When we first
 
          19       started this program, Hal Osburn told us
 
          20       five-gallon bucket of dead bait will all you'll
 
          21       be allowed on the boat.  Then we went to, well,
 
          22       you can keep them all dead and ice them down.
 
          23       Now we're back to half live, half dead.  That's
 
          24       more work on motr and Wildlife to enforce that
 
          25       law.  We don't have the problem that Mexico
 
 
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           1       has.  We don't have people going out there
 
           2       overfishing --
 
           3                 MR. SANSOM:  Thank you,
 
           4       Mr. Lara --
 
           5                 MR. LARA:  -- we have limited
 
           6       place --
 
           7                 MR. SANSOM:  -- your time is up.
 
           8                 MR. LARA:  Any questions?
 
           9                 VICE-CHAIR DINKINS:  Thank you,
 
          10       Mr. Lara.
 
          11            Guadalupe Lopez?  Iva (sic) Go from
 
          12       Brownsville?  Ellis Gilleland?  I'm sorry.  Did
 
          13       I skip past you?
 
          14                 MR. GO:  Am I next?  I'm Ivo Gogo.
 
          15                 VICE-CHAIR DINKINS:  Ivo.  Sorry I
 
          16       mispronounced --
 
          17                 MR. GOGO:  That's all right.
 
          18                 VICE-CHAIR DINKINS:  -- that.  Thank
 
          19       you.
 
          20                 MR. GOGO:  Good afternoon.  Thank you
 
          21       for letting me speak before this Commission.
 
          22       My name is Ivo, president of Campeche Seafood
 
          23       products based in Brownsville, Texas.  For more
 
          24       than 30 years our company has purchased and
 
          25       marketed and Gulf shrimp from Texas and
 
 
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           1       Mexico.  We sell to restaurant chains, grocery
 
           2       chains, food service distributors located in
 
           3       this state and throughout the nation.
 
           4            I would like to address the economic and
 
           5       shrimp marketing impact of the Southern Zone
 
           6       proposals.  Specifically I would like to take
 
           7       issue with the deferred harvest of small shrimp
 
           8       to a larger more valuable shrimp size which is
 
           9       stated in the Texas Register.  The consequences
 
          10       of this theory will be very disruptive.
 
          11            The deferred harvest theory of shrimp
 
          12       statement fails to consider what the market
 
          13       demands.  By eliminating much of the volume of
 
          14       medium- and small-sized shrimp, you would be
 
          15       depriving the majority of the consumers the
 
          16       opportunity to purchase Texas Gulf shrimp.
 
          17            I heard several car analogies today.  I
 
          18       heard one this morning.  I'd like to offer one
 
          19       as well regarding the deferred harvest theory.
 
          20       It would be like telling General Motors to stop
 
          21       producing Oldsmobiles and switch the production
 
          22       lines to larger more valuable cars.  The only
 
          23       problem is the majority of consumers cannot
 
          24       afford to buy Cadillacs.
 
          25            Grocery store chains buy approximately
 
 
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           1       40 percent of all shrimp in the United States
 
           2       market.  Sixty to eighty percent of what they
 
           3       buy are concentrated in the medium- and
 
           4       small-sized categories.  A substantial amount
 
           5       of these sizes are harvested in the proposed
 
           6       Southern Zone -- Excuse me.  There is a
 
           7       substantial of these sizes that are harvested
 
           8       in the proposed southern zone, not just
 
           9       2 percent as indicated by NMFS.  That
 
          10       information tells me that the data is grossly
 
          11       understating the situation.  It needs to be
 
          12       better researched.
 
          13            Our five gulf boats and many others that I
 
          14       buy from traditionally fish that lower zone.
 
          15       Without adequate volume of these sizes, many
 
          16       customers will have to look to expensive
 
          17       imports that do not offer the distinctive Gulf
 
          18       flavor of Texas Gulf shrimp.  This will -- this
 
          19       will create the potential for many grocery
 
          20       store chains and food service distributors to
 
          21       realign themselves with foreign producers that
 
          22       adequately supply all of the market sizes.
 
          23            Customer resistance begins when the sizes
 
          24       run larger than a medium-size shrimp.  The sale
 
          25       of shrimp must compete effectively against
 
 
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           1       other proteins, such as beef, chicken, and pork
 
           2       which all retail for or substantially less.
 
           3       Only medium- and small-sized shrimp categories
 
           4       will achieve the necessary price points that
 
           5       customers can afford.  Let's not implement this
 
           6       proposal that only markets to the select few.
 
           7       It is important to have the whole mix of sizes,
 
           8       otherwise market corrections will occur much
 
           9       sooner, thus reducing any net gain realized.
 
          10       Medium- and small-sized shrimp have played an
 
          11       important role in providing a stabilizing
 
          12       presence with X -- presence with X vessel
 
          13       prices because it maintains stronger buyer
 
          14       interest since there is much more of a size
 
          15       spectrum.
 
          16            Other problems associated with these seven
 
          17       zone proposals are the failure not to consider
 
          18       the loss of cash due to privation inside the --
 
          19                 MR. SANSOM:  Thank you, sir.  Your
 
          20       time is up.
 
          21                 MR. GOGO:  -- proposed zone.
 
          22            And I'll see you tomorrow.  Thank you.
 
          23                 VICE-CHAIR DINKINS:  Thank you.
 
          24       Ellis Gilleland.  And next up is Kristin
 
          25       Miller.
 
 
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           1                 MR. GILLELAND:  My name is Ellis
 
           2       Gilleland.  I'm speaking for Texas Animals,
 
           3       which is an Internet animal rights
 
           4       organization.  The first comment I'd like to
 
           5       make is taken from the Sunset Commission 2000
 
           6       for Texas Parks and Wildlife.  The Sunset
 
           7       Commission Issue 3 says -- it says, The Texas
 
           8       Parks and Wildlife Commission uses an unusual
 
           9       committee structure that inadvertently limits
 
          10       public input to its decision.  Well, it's not
 
          11       inadvertent.  You do it deliberately.  I asked
 
          12       to speak at the committee meetings.  I've asked
 
          13       as far as five or six years ago to speak at
 
          14       your committee meeting.  I've been turned
 
          15       down.
 
          16            The part of the Sunset Commission says in
 
          17       their summary -- and this is their
 
          18       recommendation -- require the Texas Parks and
 
          19       Wildlife Commission to accept public input
 
          20       before voting on major decisions, whether in
 
          21       committee or as a full commission.  So I ask
 
          22       you to do that by rule and no need to wait for
 
          23       legislation.  Let the public have input before
 
          24       you make your decisions.
 
          25            And your committee meetings, the second
 
 
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           1       comments have to do with the shrimp pro --
 
           2       proclamation, and in answer partly to the man
 
           3       that had been -- testified here had been
 
           4       shrimping for 40 years and the lady that had
 
           5       the article in the newspaper this morning,
 
           6       Austin American Statesman, I'd like to say to
 
           7       the shrimpers and to that lady there's no
 
           8       God-given right for them to extract their
 
           9       livelihood from the Gulf of Mexico and kill
 
          10       turtles.  There is no God-given right for them
 
          11       to do that, so they can't come here and demand
 
          12       that the state give them that right.
 
          13            The state has no right by law or any other
 
          14       obligation to support these people by giving
 
          15       them a livelihood by dragging turtles, killing
 
          16       turtles, and by way of catching shrimp.  That
 
          17       is not true and you have no obligation, there's
 
          18       no monkey on your back to give these people the
 
          19       livelihood that allows them to continue to kill
 
          20       turtles.
 
          21            They all want to take.  Where is the
 
          22       person that wants to give?  Not one of these
 
          23       people, every one of them, they're no skinniest
 
          24       people.  They're all big and fat.  They're
 
          25       living high on the hog.  Why?  Because shrimp
 
 
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           1       are $11 a pound.  I can't afford them.  $11 a
 
           2       pound.  Your recreational guy gets 100 pounds a
 
           3       day.  That means your recreational guy can go
 
           4       out and make $1100 a day.  And he's not
 
           5       supposed to sell them.  That's $300,000 a
 
           6       year.  That's a lot more than I make.  Maybe
 
           7       not as much as Mark as Bass make, but the
 
           8       Vietnamese people, there's no discrimination --
 
           9                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Mr. Gilleland,
 
          10       please not make personal remarks.
 
          11                 MR. GILLELAND:  -- against Vietnamese
 
          12       people.  I spent --
 
          13                 VICE-CHAIR DINKINS:  We'll ask you to
 
          14       be removed.  Please do not make personal
 
          15       remarks.
 
          16                 MR. SANSOM:  Thank you very much.
 
          17                 MR. GILLELAND:  I'm sorry.  Don't
 
          18       make --
 
          19                 VICE-CHAIR DINKINS:  Thank you.
 
          20       Continue.
 
          21                 MR. GILLELAND:  Wait.  I made a
 
          22       personal remark?
 
          23                 VICE-CHAIR DINKINS:  Yes.  You've
 
          24       made several.  Please restrict your comments.
 
          25       Continue -- Your time is up.  Thank you
 
 
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           1       Mr. Gilleland.
 
           2                 MR. GILLELAND:  Well -- Well -- I --
 
           3                 MR. SANSOM:  Thank you,
 
           4       Mr. Gilleland.
 
           5                 MR. GILLELAND:  I have -- I just --
 
           6                 MR. SANSOM:  Thank you,
 
           7       Mr. Gilleland.  Your time is up.
 
           8                 VICE-CHAIR DINKINS:  Next is Kristin
 
           9       Miller from Austin, Texas.  After that, Linda
 
          10       Gutierrez from Laguna Vista.  Is Ms. Miller
 
          11       here?  Next is Linda Gutierrez.  Kevin Cullen
 
          12       from Port Isabel?  Isaac Cantu from Port
 
          13       Isabel?  Mr. and Ms. Cantu from Port Isabel?
 
          14       Rosa Boggen from Port Isabel?  Imelda De Los
 
          15       Santos from Laguna Vista?  Carlette Boudreaux
 
          16       from Brownsville?  Well, I'm certainly moving
 
          17       quickly through the list.  Howard Hebert or
 
          18       Hebert from Port Isabel?  Mike Boudreaux from
 
          19       Brownsville?  Everett Saynes from Port Isabel?
 
          20       Jose Carlos Flores from South Padre Island?
 
          21       Joe Nguyen from Port Lavaca?  I apologize if I
 
          22       mispronounced that.  N-g-u-y-e-n.
 
          23                 UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER:  Nguyen.
 
          24                 VICE-CHAIR DINKINS:  Thank you.
 
          25       Ronald Hornbeck from Port Bolivar.
 
 
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           1                 MR. HORNBECK:  I -- I decline at this
 
           2       time.  I'll speak tomorrow.
 
           3                 VICE-CHAIR DINKINS:  All right.  You
 
           4       are the last one who's card I have.
 
           5            Are there others?  Did I overlook
 
           6       someone?
 
           7                 MR. RANNE:  Maybe at the front up
 
           8       there Mr. Bass talked about Ramirez and it was
 
           9       Leonard Ranne.  Anyhow, my name is Leonard
 
          10       Ranne.  I'm honored to be here before the
 
          11       Commission.  I'd like to thank Mr. Bass, the
 
          12       Commissioners, Andy Sansom for the honor of
 
          13       being here.
 
          14            I've got a couple of comments I'd like to
 
          15       make and one of them was some 25 years ago, I
 
          16       started working with Texas motr and Wildlife.
 
          17       We've covered a lot of areas.  We've had a lot
 
          18       of projects.  We've done youth outreach
 
          19       programs, getting kids hooked on fishing
 
          20       instead of drugs.  As president of Texas Black
 
          21       Bass we raised $129,000 for the hatchery at
 
          22       Athens.  We built fishing piers at White Rock
 
          23       for the handicapped, the underprivileged.  It
 
          24       seems like it just goes on and on and on.
 
          25            And here a while back, I was honored by
 
 
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           1       being a Texas Legend and placed in the Texas
 
           2       Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.  And for that,
 
           3       I would like to thank the Commission and Andy
 
           4       and the Department.  That was a tremendous
 
           5       honor.
 
           6            I guess my main concern here, one of the
 
           7       issues I want to bring up is I support Mr. Bill
 
           8       West and Jack Tatum in their requests.  They're
 
           9       asking the Department to be involved in the
 
          10       vegetation management plan.
 
          11            We've got a tremendous resource here and
 
          12       as our population continuously grows, we've got
 
          13       to make plans and manage that resource for
 
          14       30,000 people, 35 or 36,000 people instead of
 
          15       just 20,000 we've got today.  The river
 
          16       authorities need to be able to address issues
 
          17       as they immediately arise instead of having a
 
          18       vegetation problem that they wait two to three
 
          19       to four years on and they could have took care
 
          20       of it with a small application and now it takes
 
          21       act of Congress and thousands and thousand of
 
          22       dollars.
 
          23            I think good science, good management
 
          24       programs is the only way that we can provide
 
          25       the resource we have today for the future
 
 
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           1       generations coming.  And the system works, the
 
           2       way the governors appoint commissioners, the
 
           3       way the commissioners hires people like Andy.
 
           4       They go out and find some of the best
 
           5       scientists biologists that we have available.
 
           6       We need to let those people to do their job.
 
           7       We need to be here to support them.  We need to
 
           8       be here to help them find better ways to manage
 
           9       that resource.
 
          10            And I want again to thank you for the
 
          11       25 years of working with you-all.  Thank you
 
          12       very much.
 
          13                 VICE-CHAIR DINKINS:  Thank you,
 
          14       Mr. Ranne.
 
          15            Is there anyone else who signed up to
 
          16       testify?  Yes.
 
          17                 MR. HODGSON:  Yes, ma'am.  If I may,
 
          18       I'd signed up.  In fact, I believe I was the
 
          19       first person to sign up outside and if I
 
          20       could --
 
          21                 MR. SANSOM:  Please come forward.
 
          22                 VICE-CHAIR DINKINS:  Please come
 
          23       forward and identify yourself for the record.
 
          24       That's why we asked to make sure.
 
          25                 MR. HODGSON:  I appreciate that.
 
 
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           1       Commissioners, Mr. Sansom, my name is Larry
 
           2       Hodgson.  Along with my brother, Les, we're
 
           3       co-owners of a small business in business in
 
           4       Texas that markets and processes shrimp.  I'd
 
           5       like to begin with, as best I can recollect, a
 
           6       short quote from -- from a poem by Robert
 
           7       Burns, a famous Scotch poet.  He said, Would
 
           8       that God the gift to give us give ourself --
 
           9       give -- give ourselves the opportunity to see
 
          10       ourselves and others see us.  Something to that
 
          11       effect.
 
          12            And I think what's -- what's really
 
          13       critical is that we have the opportunity to see
 
          14       ourselves as others see us.  There are -- There
 
          15       are many who see the shrimpers as radicals, and
 
          16       I'm here to tell you today why we see a
 
          17       horribly flawed process that is taking place
 
          18       and I'm going to -- to reach my conclusion
 
          19       first because so many of our speakers today in
 
          20       an effort to reach than conclusions have been
 
          21       shut off before they reached that point.  And
 
          22       my conclusion is that there is -- that this
 
          23       Commission will have an opportunity tomorrow to
 
          24       consider all of the testimony, much of it
 
          25       partial testimony, but you'll have an
 
 
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           1       opportunity to consider it before you make the
 
           2       mistake of rushing to judgment as your motr and
 
           3       Wildlife staff did.  And now I'm going to tell
 
           4       you what was wrong with that process.  We're
 
           5       consistently told that there would be no new
 
           6       shrimp regulations.  In April of this year, all
 
           7       of a sudden there had been an 18-month study in
 
           8       which our shrimp advisory committee had never
 
           9       been included and where they were asked -- they
 
          10       were given five days from the time that they
 
          11       received their briefing books to comment on
 
          12       that -- on those regulations.  I'm going to
 
          13       tell you that you -- you -- you dreamed up
 
          14       eight public hearings along the Texas coast and
 
          15       then made sure that four of them took place
 
          16       after your Department opened our season and
 
          17       sent our captains and crews to sea and put our
 
          18       processing facilities to work, at the height of
 
          19       our season, you did what the agricultural
 
          20       department in this state would never dream of
 
          21       doing at the height of cotton harvest in
 
          22       calling cotton farmers in for onerous new
 
          23       regulations on cotton farming.
 
          24            I'm here to tell you that we have no right
 
          25       to be here today.  We -- we manage our small
 
 
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           1       business, and our entire corporate management
 
           2       is here.  We're harvesting several aquaculture
 
           3       ponds this week, all of them permitted by your
 
           4       Department.  We're receiving record landings
 
           5       from the shrimp boats from the fleets.  We have
 
           6       more money invested in shrimp at this time this
 
           7       year than we have ever had.
 
           8            You ask about economic impact studies, and
 
           9       I'm here to tell you that your Department has
 
          10       not done the economic impact studies.  I'm here
 
          11       to tell you that the onerous new regulations on
 
          12       gear restrictions now on the Texas coast are
 
          13       going to cause a complete redirections of the
 
          14       fishery in much of that zone.  It's going cost
 
          15       the offshore vessels at least $3,000 per vessel
 
          16       to put new nets on there.  It will take them at
 
          17       least four hours to change those nets out each
 
          18       time.  And they don't have room on the vessels
 
          19       to carry those nets.  So you're redirecting the
 
          20       fishery, and what the economic impact is going
 
          21       to be, I can't tell you, but neither can your
 
          22       own Department.
 
          23                 MR. SANSOM:  Thank you,
 
          24       Mr. Hodgson.
 
          25                 MR. HODGSON:  That haven't studied
 
 
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           1       it.
 
           2                 MR. SANSOM:  Your time is up.
 
           3                 MR. HODGSON:  Thank you.
 
           4                 VICE-CHAIR DINKINS:  Thank you.
 
           5            We have several statements that are to be
 
           6       included in the record and I wanted to make
 
           7       sure that we acknowledged that.  First of
 
           8       all is a letter from Dr. Delores Munoz,
 
           9       superintendent of schools for the Port Isabel
 
          10       Independent School District.  And we have as
 
          11       well a letter from Tom Uher, member of the
 
          12       Texas House of Representatives.  And this will
 
          13       be placed in the record as well.  And a letter
 
          14       from Raymond Mathews, Jr., Conservation
 
          15       Liaison, Threatened or Endangered Species
 
          16       Section of the Texas Academy of Science.  And
 
          17       all of those will be included in the record of
 
          18       the public meeting this afternoon.
 
          19            Let me ask again whether anyone had signed
 
          20       up to testify that we have missed calling on.
 
          21       Thank you.
 
          22            With that, I believe that we have come to
 
          23       the conclusion of the business for this public
 
          24       meeting.  Turn the chair back over to
 
          25       Chairman Bass.
 
 
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           1                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Sorry.  I was out of
 
           2       the room.  Have we gone through all of the --
 
           3                 VICE-CHAIR DINKINS:  Yes.  These --
 
           4                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  -- statements and
 
           5       quite a number of people who left us?
 
           6                 VICE-CHAIR DINKINS:  Yes, these are
 
           7       the people who did not respond when I --
 
           8                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Okay.
 
           9                 VICE-CHAIR DINKINS:  -- called their
 
          10       names.
 
          11                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Okay.  And there's no
 
          12       one in the audience, I gather, that wishes to
 
          13       speak who has not had an opportunity; is that
 
          14       correct?
 
          15                 VICE-CHAIR DINKINS:  I believe not.
 
          16                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Good.  That being the
 
          17       case, I think there's no further business for
 
          18       the Commission this afternoon and we would
 
          19       stand adjourned until tomorrow morning unless
 
          20       the executive director has something that he
 
          21       wishes to bring to our attention.
 
          22                 MR. SANSOM:  No further business,
 
          23       Mr. Chairman.
 
          24                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Good.  I thank all of
 
          25       you ladies and gentlemen for coming today
 
 
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           1       and -- and sharing your thoughts with us and --
 
           2       and we do appreciate it.  Thank you very much.
 
           3       We stand adjourned.
 
           4                 (SESSION ENDS.)
 
           5
 
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           1       THE STATE OF TEXAS    )
                   COUNTY OF BEXAR       )
           2
 
           3                 I, TONYA R. THOMPSON, a Certified
 
           4       Court Reporter in and for the State of Texas,
 
           5       do hereby certify that the above and foregoing
 
           6       143 pages constitute a full, true, and correct
 
           7       transcript of the minutes of the Texas Parks
 
           8       and Wildlife Commission on AUGUST 30, 2000, in
 
           9       the Commission hearing room of the Texas Parks
 
          10       and Wildlife Headquarters Complex, Austin,
 
          11       Travis County, Texas.
 
          12           I FURTHER CERTIFY that a stenographic
 
          13       record was made by me at the time of the public
 
          14       meeting and said stenographic notes were
 
          15       thereafter reduced to computerized
 
          16       transcription under my supervision and control.
 
          17           WITNESS MY HAND this the      day of
 
          18                       , 2000.
 
          19
 
          20
                                 TONYA R. THOMPSON, Texas CSR 5476
          21                     Expiration Date:  12/2000
                                 7800 IH-10 West, Suite 100
          22                     San Antonio, Texas 78230
                                 (210) 377-3027
          23
                   EBS NO.:
          24
 
          25
 
 
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           1
 
           2
 
           3                          LEE M. BASS, CHAIRMAN
 
           4
 
           5                          CAROL E. DINKINS, VICE-CHAIR
 
           6
 
           7                          DICK W. HEATH
 
           8
 
           9                          NOLAN RYAN
 
          10
 
          11                          ERNEST ANGELO, JR.
 
          12
 
          13                          JOHN AVILA, JR.
 
          14
 
          15                          ALVIN L. HENRY
 
          16
 
          17                          KATHARINE ARMSTRONG IDSAL
 
          18
 
          19                          MARK E. WATSON, JR.
 
          20
 
          21
 
          22
 
          23
 
          24
 
          25
 
 
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