Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Regulations Committee

Aug. 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 9:26 a.m. to wit:
 
          14
 
          15
                   APPEARANCES:
          16       THE PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:
                   REGULATIONS COMMITTEE:
          17       Chair:        Lee M. Bass
                                 Ernest Angelo, Jr.
          18                     Carol E. Dinkins
                                 Dick W. Heath
          19                     Nolan Ryan
                                 John Avila, Jr.
          20                     Alvin L. Henry
                                 Katharine Armstrong Idsal
          21                     Mark E. Watson, Jr.
 
          22       THE PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:
                   Andrew H. Sansom, Executive Director, and other
          23       personnel of the Parks and Wildlife Department
 
          24
 
          25
 
 
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           1                     AUGUST 30, 2000
 
           2
 
           3                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Good morning.
 
           4            Are we live?
 
           5            We will commence our meetings with the
 
           6       call to order of the Regulations Committee,
 
           7       please.  And Mr. Sansom would you please read
 
           8       our opening statement.
 
           9                 MR. SANSOM:  Mr. Chairman and members
 
          10       of meeting and this -- notice of this meeting
 
          11       containing all items on the proposed agenda has
 
          12       been filed in the Office of Secretary of State
 
          13       as required by Chapter 551 of the Government
 
          14       Code.  This is referred to as the Open Meetings
 
          15       Law, and I would like for this action to be
 
          16       noted in the official record of the minutes.
 
          17                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.  First
 
          18       order of business will be a briefing on the
 
          19       chairman's charges, and would you please do
 
          20       that for us.
 
          21       ITEM NO. 1 - BRIEFING - CHAIRMAN'S CHARGES.
 
          22                 MR. SANSOM:  Yes.  Mr. Chairman,
 
          23       the charges for regulations include the
 
          24       establishment bylaws for the finfish license
 
          25       management review board and that has been
 
 
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           1       done.
 
           2            We've issued requested for bids for the
 
           3       first commercial crab license buybacks and bids
 
           4       for the eighth commercial shrimp license
 
           5       buybacks.  We have also requests to publish
 
           6       amendments to the MLD regulations on our agenda
 
           7       today, so that conclude the charges.
 
           8                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Also, the Committee
 
           9       needs to approve the minutes from our last
 
          10       committee meeting, and if there are any changes
 
          11       or observations, the Chair would entertain them
 
          12       now.
 
          13                 COMMISSIONER HEATH:  Approval.
 
          14                 COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Second.
 
          15                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Motion for approval
 
          16       by Mr. Heath, second by Mr. Henry.  All in
 
          17       favor?
 
          18                 ALL COMMISSIONERS:  Aye.
 
          19                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Any opposed?
 
          20                 (No response, and motion carries
 
          21       unanimously.)
 
          22                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.
 
          23       AGENDA ITEM NO. 5:  ACTION - MIGRATORY GAME
 
          24       BIRD PROCLAMATION- LATE SEASON.
 
          25                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  We're going to go out
 
 
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           1       of order a little bit today because I
 
           2       understand there's scheduling issues with the
 
           3       staff and first do the migratory game bird
 
           4       proclamation late season.
 
           5            Good morning, Mr. Bevill.
 
           6                 MR. BEVILL:  Good morning.
 
           7       Mr. Chairman, members of the Commission, my
 
           8       name is Vernon Bevill.  I'm the program
 
           9       director for migratory wildlife, and today
 
          10       marks the third part of our process for the
 
          11       implementation of migratory wildlife
 
          12       regulations for 2000-2001 season.  This is the
 
          13       section that deals with late-season species and
 
          14       we will also be involved in one amendment to an
 
          15       early season species.
 
          16            The primary changes that resulted by the
 
          17       Fish and Wildlife Service, two of those changes
 
          18       relate to our ability to set the Light Goose
 
          19       Conservation Order at this meeting rather than
 
          20       later in the fall by emergency regulation that
 
          21       pertain to shortening the goose seasons and --
 
          22       and sandhill crane season, and the other change
 
          23       relates to the fact that the Fish and Wildlife
 
          24       Service has offered a second youth hunting day
 
          25       that would allow a full youth hunting weekend
 
 
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           1       this year.
 
           2                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Well, the -- the
 
           3       additional day is in addition to the general
 
           4       season; is that right?
 
           5                 MR. BEVILL:  In addition to the
 
           6       general season, but within our maximum
 
           7       allowable 107 days of hunting.
 
           8                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Total of that
 
           9       season.  Okay.
 
          10                 MR. BEVILL:  And the Western Goose
 
          11       Zone, we did contemplate and -- and discuss
 
          12       this with you at the April meeting, the
 
          13       possibility of establishing a Central Goose
 
          14       Zone to deal with the fact that not many light
 
          15       geese occur in the eastern portion of the
 
          16       Western Goose Zone and last year we had to run
 
          17       the conservation order during that period that
 
          18       required a closure early.  After reassessing
 
          19       the harvest of light geese by shortening the
 
          20       Western Goose Zone by a week we've decided that
 
          21       we weren't -- wouldn't gain enough to do that
 
          22       again this year, so we are recommending the
 
          23       full light and dark goose regular seasons for
 
          24       the Western Goose Zone and the dates are
 
          25       similar to last year with calendarship, bag
 
 
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           1       limits are unchanged.
 
           2            For the Eastern Goose Zone, instead of
 
           3       having to come in by emergency rule and shorten
 
           4       the -- the calendar goose season and the
 
           5       regular light goose season, we were able to do
 
           6       that this year at this meeting, so the light
 
           7       goose season and the dark goose seasons will
 
           8       both -- will all initiate on October 28th and
 
           9       close on January the 21st with the same bag
 
          10       limits as last year.
 
          11            The Fish and Wildlife Service is giving us
 
          12       this option to establish the Light Goose
 
          13       Conservation Order in concurrence with our
 
          14       regular seasons as I've noted, and so for the
 
          15       Light Goose Conservation Order, we would
 
          16       implement that in the Western Goose Zone on
 
          17       February the 12th and run it through April the
 
          18       1st and January the 22nd through April the 1st
 
          19       in the Eastern Goose Zone with the same
 
          20       provisos as allowed the past two years.
 
          21                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  In -- In the
 
          22       Western Zone on the white-fronted geese, you
 
          23       haven't had any luck in -- or have you -- what
 
          24       effort have we made, if any, to increase that
 
          25       to two?
 
 
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           1                 MR. BEVILL:  We've -- We have
 
           2       discussed this every year with the -- with our
 
           3       fly-away and Fish and Wildlife Service and
 
           4       the -- and the concern for white-fronts in the
 
           5       Western Goose Zone is that they're coming out
 
           6       of the Pacific population primarily and that is
 
           7       a somewhat smaller population, and so we can't
 
           8       get concurrence from the Fish and Wildlife
 
           9       Service yet on increasing that bag limit to
 
          10       reflect the same as the Eastern Goose Zone.
 
          11            The Snow Goose Conservation Order requires
 
          12       that sandhill crane season be closed during
 
          13       that period.  As in the previous two years, we
 
          14       would have to take action to shorten the
 
          15       sandhill crane season in compliance with
 
          16       that -- with that stipulation.
 
          17            The environmental impact statement on the
 
          18       light goose issue is progressing and -- and
 
          19       within our public comments we hope to point out
 
          20       that this is really not a conflict and try to
 
          21       extract the sandhill crane from that regulatory
 
          22       requirement in the future years.
 
          23                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  How -- How much of
 
          24       those seasons will we be losing?
 
          25                 MR. BEVILL:  Well, this year we -- we
 
 
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           1       moved this -- the opener for the sandhill crane
 
           2       season in Zone C back a week, so we actually
 
           3       gain a week back by opening it a little
 
           4       earlier, but we're basically losing about 21
 
           5       days of the 37 days in the -- in Zone C, which
 
           6       is the Coastal Zone, and we're losing about the
 
           7       same amount of days in the Zone B, but we --
 
           8       but we opened Zone B earlier and so we get --
 
           9       had a longer season in Zone B, which is a
 
          10       light -- very lightly harvested area, anyway.
 
          11       The real impact would be in Zone C.
 
          12                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  We're losing over
 
          13       half of it?
 
          14                 MR. BEVILL:  Yes, sir.
 
          15            Let me go back here.
 
          16                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Do you have any
 
          17       estimates of how many -- how many hunters that
 
          18       impacts?
 
          19                 MR. BEVILL:  We have about 4500
 
          20       active sandhill crane hunters in Texas, and
 
          21       probably half of those hunt in Zone -- in
 
          22       Zone C.
 
          23                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Over 2,000?
 
          24                 MR. BEVILL:  Yeah.  Yes, sir.  And
 
          25       that -- And that impacts about the harvest that
 
 
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           1       we would normally take that --
 
           2                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Sure.
 
           3                 MR. BEVILL:  -- by about 50 percent.
 
           4                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  And do we have any
 
           5       estimates of how many hunters take advantage of
 
           6       the late goose season, the extended snow goose
 
           7       season?
 
           8                 MR. BEVILL:  We -- We are running
 
           9       estimates on that.  We do a follow-up survey
 
          10       every year to kind of look at our harvest
 
          11       and -- and we're basing those estimates on the
 
          12       calculation of the -- the hunters who are
 
          13       compliant with HIP who say they are goose
 
          14       hunters, and I don't have that number off the
 
          15       top of my head, but we just ran the survey, and
 
          16       last year, our survey indicated we harvested
 
          17       about 53,000 Canada geese -- I mean, white --
 
          18       white geese during that extended season.  And
 
          19       this year's survey indicated we about doubled
 
          20       that, and so we're still looking at that survey
 
          21       to be sure we -- we've not missed something
 
          22       because we want to be sure our number is
 
          23       fairly -- fairly accurate, but the preliminary
 
          24       estimate is that we went over 100,000 during
 
          25       the conservation order period compared to
 
 
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           1       53,000 a year ago.
 
           2                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Is there a way to
 
           3       extrapolate how many hunters that might
 
           4       represent?
 
           5                 MR. BEVILL:  Yes, sir.  And that's
 
           6       part of what we're -- that's part of what
 
           7       we're --
 
           8                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  So --
 
           9                 MR. BEVILL:  -- looking at.
 
          10                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.
 
          11                 MR. BEVILL:  Uh-huh.  For ducks
 
          12       mergansers, and coots, the bag limit is
 
          13       basically the same as -- as last year.  The --
 
          14       The composition for those species that there
 
          15       are further restrictions on is the same.  Of
 
          16       course, there are a number of species like teal
 
          17       and gadwall and shovelers there are no
 
          18       restrictions for those species, so that's
 
          19       basically the same as last year.
 
          20            Season dates with calendar shifts are
 
          21       the same as last year for the high-plain
 
          22       mallard management unit, the North Zone and
 
          23       South Zone, because we are actually in the
 
          24       high-plain mallard management unit, if you
 
          25       total up the number of regular duck-hunting
 
 
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           1       days available, the teal season days, and the
 
           2       youth weekend, there are a potential of
 
           3       115 days of hunting, but we are restricted by
 
           4       treaty to only 107 days of hunting in order to
 
           5       provide the two-day youth weekend in the -- in
 
           6       the high plains, we -- we pulled one day out of
 
           7       the -- Actually, it's the Tuesday in the -- in
 
           8       the first segment of the October hunt and --
 
           9       and laid that back with the -- with the youth
 
          10       hunt feeling like the greater gain would be
 
          11       providing the youth opportunity over a full
 
          12       weekend and -- and the Tuesday was a -- and
 
          13       particularly in the first segment was a
 
          14       lightly-hunted day anyway, so that's the
 
          15       movement we made.
 
          16            And we are recommending the youth hunts
 
          17       to -- to basically be the same weekend as last
 
          18       year in each of the areas with the addition of
 
          19       the Sunday opportunity for -- for youth
 
          20       hunting.  And count -- And the dates of the
 
          21       season proposal are the same with
 
          22       calendarship.
 
          23            For the extended falconry season in the
 
          24       high-plain mallard management unit because we
 
          25       are at the maximum and we are not proposing any
 
 
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           1       days for the -- for the extended falconry
 
           2       season, however, we are utilizing, I think, 91
 
           3       gun-hunting days in the North and South Duck
 
           4       Zone, so that leaves us some days to allow
 
           5       extended falconry for the -- for the remainder
 
           6       of the state and we are proposing that for the
 
           7       22nd of January through February 6.
 
           8            We had very light public comments this
 
           9       year, only 21 to date, and the preponderance of
 
          10       those comments revolved around recommendations
 
          11       on when to set the youth weekend, and we have
 
          12       pursued the youth weekend proposals consistent
 
          13       with public comment.
 
          14            Mr. Chairman, I would recommend that this
 
          15       committee move this item forward to the
 
          16       attention of the full commission tomorrow
 
          17       for -- for action.
 
          18            I'd be glad to entertain any further
 
          19       questions.
 
          20                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Are there any
 
          21       questions or comments at this time?
 
          22                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Move approval
 
          23       of the full committee action.
 
          24                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Motion to move it to
 
          25       the commission agenda tomorrow for public
 
 
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           1       comment and further consideration.
 
           2                 COMMISSIONER RYAN:  Second.
 
           3                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:
 
           4       Mr. Chairman?
 
           5                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Yes, ma'am.
 
           6                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Was this one
 
           7       elegible for consent?
 
           8                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Might be, but I would
 
           9       suggest we not do it in consent personally.
 
          10       Thank you for raising it.
 
          11                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  It is an
 
          12       option.  I found it.
 
          13                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Any comments?  All in
 
          14       favor?
 
          15                 ALL COMMISSIONERS:  Aye.
 
          16                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Any opposed?
 
          17                 (No response, and motion carries
 
          18       unanimously.)
 
          19                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.
 
          20                 MR. BEVILL:  Thank you, sir.
 
          21       AGENDA ITEM NO. 2:  ACTION - TRAP, TRANSPORT,
 
          22       AND TRANSPLANT.
 
          23                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  All right.  Trap,
 
          24       Transport, and Transplant permit.  Mr. Cooke.
 
          25                 DR. COOKE:  Mr. Chairman and members,
 
 
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           1       my name is Jerry Cooke, program director for
 
           2       Upland Wildlife Ecology and I'll be presenting
 
           3       the proposed changes to the statewide Trap,
 
           4       Transport, and Transplant Proclamation.  If the
 
           5       Commission require -- recall in '95 and '96
 
           6       when we sunseted all of our regulations, this
 
           7       proclamation had just been adopted and so it
 
           8       was waived from review at that time.  Many of
 
           9       the changes that you see in your booklet are
 
          10       essentially sunset changes.  We're removing
 
          11       redundant language simplifying language,
 
          12       anything in statutes not required in
 
          13       regulation, and -- But those are basically
 
          14       nonsubstantive changes to the -- to the
 
          15       regulations.
 
          16            Also, because of some problems that
 
          17       occurred this past year, we are defining
 
          18       permittee as anyone who is allowed to conduct
 
          19       permitted activities under a permit and
 
          20       clarifying the substantive -- the supervising
 
          21       permittee is the one to whom the permit is
 
          22       originally issued and who applies for it.
 
          23            In the proposal that's in your booklet,
 
          24       there's some incorrect dates on the period of
 
          25       time in which we would guarantee a review,
 
 
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           1       approval, or disapproval of an application.  If
 
           2       someone were to apply between September 1 and
 
           3       November 15th, we can guarantee that there will
 
           4       be no more than 45 days involved in reviewing
 
           5       and approving or disapproving their
 
           6       application.  This is a very busy time of year
 
           7       for our people, and after that period, we can't
 
           8       really make such a guarantee, and this is
 
           9       hopefully to shift the application process to
 
          10       earlier in the season rather than later.
 
          11            Clarifying that all release sites must
 
          12       have an approved wildlife management plan.
 
          13            We're also defining a minimum impact
 
          14       release as one having a density of deer less
 
          15       than one to 200 acres for a tract of land.
 
          16       These essentially will be waiving our
 
          17       requirement to have a field inspection.  Such
 
          18       an inspection can still take place, but
 
          19       basically it's not necessary under these
 
          20       circumstances.
 
          21            Any buck deer moved between October 1 and
 
          22       February 10th will have its antlers removed
 
          23       before it's moved and released.  This would not
 
          24       apply to an owner of two tracts that are
 
          25       essentially contiguous, separated by a road or
 
 
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           1       by a fence or moving animals between pastures
 
           2       on a single property, but any other -- Any
 
           3       other buck moved during this period must have
 
           4       their antlers removed.
 
           5            Also, there was a problem in our
 
           6       notification requirement.  There were
 
           7       individuals who would notify the Department,
 
           8       quote, within 24 hours of an operation then not
 
           9       do anything for three weeks and this was making
 
          10       it difficult for inspection of either the trap
 
          11       site or the release site.  We'd be changing
 
          12       those propose -- that regulation to
 
          13       notification between 24 and 48 hours of each
 
          14       instance of a trapping operation.
 
          15            Also, some changes in the recordkeeping
 
          16       requirement which would require a daily log.
 
          17       Most trappers do this anyway.  These would be
 
          18       available for inspection so that we could
 
          19       determine whether they were in their process on
 
          20       their permit at any time.
 
          21            Also, in the final report, we would -- we
 
          22       would be proposing to change the regulation to
 
          23       require a financial disclosure to be included
 
          24       in the report of the permitted activities.
 
          25       This can be done by receipt.  That would be a
 
 
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           1       feasible way of doing so, and, therefore, those
 
           2       records would also be part of the daily --
 
           3       daily log of the operations as well and
 
           4       available for inspection.
 
           5            As we did with the Scientific Breeder
 
           6       Proclamation, we're proposing that any truck,
 
           7       trailer, box, or whatever, which animals are
 
           8       being possessed under this permit be marked
 
           9       with a simple marking of three Ts on the back
 
          10       of the vehicle or box.
 
          11            Also, we're including in this regulations
 
          12       very similar to those that we have in the other
 
          13       Chapter 43 permits that require that any animal
 
          14       that's inadvertently killed, either during the
 
          15       trapping, transporting, or releasing operation
 
          16       be kept in an edible condition, disposed of by
 
          17       donating it to a needy individual, charitable
 
          18       institution, those sorts of things, and those
 
          19       receipts for those animals would be included in
 
          20       their final report.
 
          21            Also, animals that were inadvertently
 
          22       killed during these operations would be part of
 
          23       the number of animals that they had been
 
          24       permitted to trap.  In other words, it would
 
          25       count against however many they were allowed
 
 
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           1       under the permit.
 
           2            Public comment is fairly light on this --
 
           3       on this issue.  We had public hearings in
 
           4       Cotulla, Kerrville, San Angelo, Athens, and
 
           5       Austin, which was attended by 36 people.
 
           6       Basically, the comments were very -- were very
 
           7       supportive.  There were a lot of questions.
 
           8       There weren't really any negative comments at
 
           9       any of those, but there was one suggestion that
 
          10       perhaps the definition of a minimum impact
 
          11       release could be more deer, but basically in
 
          12       our conversations with the task force, the --
 
          13       the recommendation of the task force was all
 
          14       over the board and we kind of split the
 
          15       difference in our proposal, and we would
 
          16       recommend that we retain that.  We had 13
 
          17       e-mail comments that all were basically opposed
 
          18       to the whole process, you know, not any aspect
 
          19       oft proposal, but just the Trapping and
 
          20       Transport Proclamation in general.
 
          21            This will be the motion that we'll be
 
          22       recommending to the full commission tomorrow,
 
          23       and at this time, I'll be happy to take any
 
          24       questions or comments you might have on this or
 
          25       suggestions and my recommendations that we
 
 
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           1       forward this to the full commission tomorrow
 
           2       for further comment and adoption.
 
           3            Ma'am?
 
           4                 COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  The only
 
           5       question I have on the required marking of
 
           6       trailers and vehicles, will there be some sort
 
           7       of decal or --
 
           8                 DR. COOKE:  They can mark them any
 
           9       way they want.
 
          10                 COMMISSIONER IDSAL:  Any way.  And --
 
          11                 DR. COOKE:  Basically as long as it's
 
          12       a different color from the background and large
 
          13       enough to be read from a vehicle following is
 
          14       all that's really required.  I don't think that
 
          15       the -- I'm sorry.  I don't -- Well, wait a
 
          16       minute.  I do have my regulations here.
 
          17                 MR. GRAHAM:  While Jerry's looking at
 
          18       them, let me thank the task force that worked
 
          19       with us on putting all these recommendations
 
          20       together.  Some of the members are here and we
 
          21       really appreciate their effort.
 
          22                 DR. COOKE:  The letters have to be
 
          23       6 inches.  I'm sorry.  I couldn't recall the
 
          24       exact, but it's -- It's just a contrasting
 
          25       letter so that we could distinguish it.
 
 
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           1                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Any other comments?
 
           2       As I understand the recommendation, it includes
 
           3       the -- some of the housekeeping items that we
 
           4       discussed --
 
           5                 DR. COOKE:  Yes, sir.
 
           6                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  -- recently of --
 
           7                 DR. COOKE:  Yes, sir, as far as
 
           8       the -- as far as the notification, there's two
 
           9       different ways that we've done that in the
 
          10       regulations.  We chose one and it probably
 
          11       would be more appropriate to use the research
 
          12       format for that and that will be a housekeeping
 
          13       change.  It really doesn't affect our ability
 
          14       to enforce it or inspect or comply with the
 
          15       statutes.
 
          16                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  All right.  Any
 
          17       further comment or questions?  And I believe
 
          18       this one would be eligible for a consent
 
          19       agenda.  Got most of our comments on this one
 
          20       up front in the task force and it's been pretty
 
          21       smooth sailing since then.
 
          22                 DR. COOKE:  It's just the -- It's
 
          23       just the first one for me sort of to get a
 
          24       consent agenda.
 
          25                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  I have a motion and a
 
 
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           1       second.  All in favor?
 
           2                 ALL COMMISSIONERS:  Aye.
 
           3                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Any opposed?
 
           4                 (No response, and motion carries
 
           5       unanimously.)
 
           6                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you very much.
 
           7                 DR. COOKE:  Thank you, sir.
 
           8       AGENDA ITEM NO. 3. ACTION - 2000-2001 SHRIMP
 
           9       MANAGEMENT PROCLAMATION
 
          10                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Next item of business
 
          11       will be the Shrimp Management Proclamation and
 
          12       the Chair would like to recognize that
 
          13       Senator Bernsen from the Beaumont area is -- is
 
          14       with us today and we appreciate his interest
 
          15       and attendance here today.  Just recognizing
 
          16       your presence, Senator, and appreciate you
 
          17       being here and -- and having an interest in --
 
          18       in what we're doing here today.
 
          19                 SENATOR BERNSEN:  Absolutely.
 
          20       Absolutely.  And I'll be in and out.  I don't
 
          21       need to make a comment right now.
 
          22                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Oh, you're welcome to
 
          23       if you'd care to.  Thank you.
 
          24                 DR. MCKINNEY:   Mr. Chairman,
 
          25       members, for the record, I'm Dr. Larry
 
 
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           1       McKinney, senior director for aquatic
 
           2       resources, Parks and Wildlife.  I've been
 
           3       charged with introducing the -- this issue and
 
           4       trying to address some of the basic concerns
 
           5       that have been raised about the foundation
 
           6       department, which the -- the proposal has
 
           7       been -- has been addressed.  You'll find in
 
           8       your packet of information a -- a section
 
           9       called -- entitled, Major Criticisms Received
 
          10       on the Proposal of the Shrimp -- of Shrimping
 
          11       Rules, which is staff's attempt to address some
 
          12       of those common issues that were raised
 
          13       throughout our public process, and what I would
 
          14       like to do today is -- is to briefly review a
 
          15       couple of those that -- that we heard quite
 
          16       often and then, of course, answering any
 
          17       questions that you might -- that you might
 
          18       have.  I would like to go over with you
 
          19       three -- three different areas, a discussion on
 
          20       environmental impacts on the shrimping
 
          21       industry, bycatch studies, and basic -- what I
 
          22       call basic shrimp management science.
 
          23            The first issue on environmental impacts,
 
          24       there's been some -- been consistent statements
 
          25       that, in fact, environmental conditions are the
 
 
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           1       real cause of declines in shrimp populations.
 
           2       That's -- That's where the problem lies.  I
 
           3       want to briefly address -- address those, and
 
           4       those types of impacts really do fall into --
 
           5       into two areas, one that I would call
 
           6       long-term, kind of cumulative impacts, and
 
           7       those are issues that directly affect ecosystem
 
           8       health:  Water quality, water quantity,
 
           9       habitat.
 
          10            And our staff, in summarizing where we are
 
          11       in those long-term issues, for example, I'm
 
          12       looking at water quality.  When we look at our
 
          13       two major bay systems, Galveston and
 
          14       Corpus Christi, which has the most impact on
 
          15       them and look at the results of studies by the
 
          16       national estuarine programs, we see that, in
 
          17       fact, water quality is improving in those bays
 
          18       and has been.
 
          19            Water quantity, this is fresh water
 
          20       inflows.  It's an important issue for all of us
 
          21       that we've -- we've dealt with, and if we look
 
          22       at that, we know that those issues are going to
 
          23       become increasingly important along the upper
 
          24       coast areas, that -- that we're -- we're in
 
          25       fairly good shape there now, but with the
 
 
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           1       pressures of water development and so forth,
 
           2       it's going to become more and more critical,
 
           3       and as you move down the coast toward Corpus,
 
           4       they are important right now and they are
 
           5       limiting factors on the health of those systems
 
           6       and the fresh water that it receives, so we're
 
           7       actively working in those areas.
 
           8            Habitat, we have along the Texas coast as
 
           9       we have seen throughout the country, we've lost
 
          10       about half of our -- our wetlands, which are --
 
          11       are fundamental to -- to those issues.
 
          12            So those are long-term factors that we do
 
          13       have to deal with.  They do -- These factors do
 
          14       affect the carrying capacity of those coastal
 
          15       estuarine systems and we're all trying to work
 
          16       on them.  It's the one area, I think, in which
 
          17       I would hope that all of our interests,
 
          18       commercial, recreational, and department
 
          19       would -- would agree that we have to work
 
          20       together on to make sure that we -- that we
 
          21       protect the health of those -- of those
 
          22       systems.  But the reality is that that carrying
 
          23       capacity has diminished and -- and is
 
          24       diminishing, and as it affects how we manage
 
          25       all of our fisheries, it's a carrying capacity
 
 
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           1       deal.  It's a matter of how we allocate those
 
           2       resources and how we allocate the pie itself
 
           3       and how we deal with that, and that's what we
 
           4       have to deal with.
 
           5            When you look at -- at other factors which
 
           6       are more short term, perhaps annual types of
 
           7       impacts, we're talking about droughts,
 
           8       hurricanes, and floods, and so forth and those
 
           9       do, obviously, affect on a -- on a short-term
 
          10       basis, even annually production of shrimp,
 
          11       fish, and -- and other things as illustrated
 
          12       here on -- on this graph.  The point I would
 
          13       want to make and I think you've heard this and
 
          14       you will hear it, that, for example, Well,
 
          15       we're having a good shrimping year this year.
 
          16       Why are we doing these regulations?  Well, that
 
          17       questions is concerning because, in fact, we
 
          18       don't manage fisheries of any type on a
 
          19       year-to-year basis.  We look at the long-term
 
          20       sustainability.  I think if you were to say
 
          21       that, okay, if we're having a good year this
 
          22       year, what do we do when we have a bad year?
 
          23       And, in fact, the good year this year was
 
          24       mostly offshore and with places inshore that
 
          25       weren't.  We don't want to be in a situation
 
 
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           1       where we -- we look at it on that basis, we
 
           2       have to look longer term, and so that's --
 
           3       that's what we're looking at here and what we
 
           4       look at and that Hal and others will -- will
 
           5       adequately, I think, could demonstrate to you
 
           6       that our concern and the reasons we've come to
 
           7       you is that decline, that long-term decline as
 
           8       you see on the graphics of -- of our shrimp
 
           9       populations.
 
          10            In another area of -- of some concern
 
          11       raised was that in looking at bycatch issues,
 
          12       that our bycatch data was not valid because the
 
          13       TPWD boats were used, Parks and Wildlife boats
 
          14       were used to do that.  And, yes, we have used
 
          15       our boats in looking at efficiencies of various
 
          16       bycatch devices and other things, but the basis
 
          17       upon which our proposals have come forward is
 
          18       illustrated here in the graphics.  In fact,
 
          19       those studies were conducted through the period
 
          20       of 1993 to 1995, included seven bay systems.
 
          21       We analyzed 854 tows from 216 different
 
          22       commercial boats.  Basically, our biologists
 
          23       went out as the fishermen were towing, came up
 
          24       to the fisherman and basically bought a portion
 
          25       of their catch and did the analysis.  This is
 
 
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           1       straight out of -- out of the commercial
 
           2       activity and that's the basis upon which we
 
           3       made our determination of -- of the impacts
 
           4       of -- of bycatch and those studies as you can
 
           5       see where they were done and at what time.
 
           6            The final issue and one that's most
 
           7       important and we will spend some time on this
 
           8       talking about the very foundations on which
 
           9       this proposal is based and that's the
 
          10       science -- science of shrimp management.  There
 
          11       have been a couple of statements made
 
          12       consistently that we hear that there is a
 
          13       contradiction between Texas Parks and Wildlife
 
          14       and the National Marine Fishery Service
 
          15       information and one you can overfish shrimp
 
          16       stocks.  And I want us to spend some time on
 
          17       that this morning addressing those issues and
 
          18       we have enlisted the aid of some scientists to
 
          19       come up and talk with you about it and give you
 
          20       the opportunity to talk with them.
 
          21            But before I introduce those speakers, in
 
          22       the back of that packet that talks about that
 
          23       criticisms, there is a glossary, a multi-page
 
          24       glossary of terms that -- that are used, and
 
          25       what I've done and will do for just a few
 
 
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           1       moments, I've picked out some key terms that
 
           2       you will hear over and over this morning and
 
           3       throughout the day and I want to make sure that
 
           4       we -- we understand them and -- and can go
 
           5       forward with them, so let's do that.
 
           6            First of all, the term of biological
 
           7       overfishing, this is a key term for us in that
 
           8       in our fisheries management plan, we are
 
           9       directed that when we recognize biological
 
          10       overfishing as occurring, that's the key for us
 
          11       to take some action and bring forward
 
          12       recommendations to you-all -- to you-all.  And
 
          13       that biological overfishing occurs when harvest
 
          14       falls below maximum sustainable yield and we
 
          15       begin to get some indication of that by a
 
          16       declining CPUE, catch per unit effort.  So when
 
          17       we see that happening, that's how we're
 
          18       directed in our management.  And when we see
 
          19       that begin to happen, that's when we need
 
          20       to take action to -- to meet our
 
          21       responsibilities.
 
          22            So let's define those two terms.  First,
 
          23       catch per unit effort, which basically is the
 
          24       amount of shrimp caught by a defined amount of
 
          25       effort, usually in pounds her hour.  I think an
 
 
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           1       analogy of this would be -- And I'll promise
 
           2       I'll only use the baseball analogy once and
 
           3       that's batting average.  That's really what
 
           4       we're talking about, that success for effort of
 
           5       coming up to the plate on it.  That's what
 
           6       we're talking about, how -- a standardized form
 
           7       of trying to -- to get a handle on what success
 
           8       rates are per unit of effort or times forward.
 
           9       So that's -- That's what CPUE would be.
 
          10            Maximum sustained yield, MSY.  This is the
 
          11       largest average catch that can be taken
 
          12       continuously on a sustained basis obviously
 
          13       from a stock under average environmental
 
          14       conditions.  Basically all other factors aside,
 
          15       what's the -- the greatest poundage that you
 
          16       can produce of any particular fish, in this
 
          17       case, shrimp.  What's the maximum sustained
 
          18       yield that you can expect.  This is a basic
 
          19       figure in looking at how you manage fisheries.
 
          20            What we look toward as far as what we're
 
          21       trying to do and certainly what it's our
 
          22       attempt for our proposal before you today to
 
          23       accomplish is optimum yield, not maximum
 
          24       sustain yield, but optimum yield, the amount of
 
          25       shrimp the fishery will produce on a continuing
 
 
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           1       basis that will achieve a maximum economic
 
           2       benefits to the shrimping industry and the
 
           3       state and as modified by relevant social or
 
           4       economic factors.  In other words, taking into
 
           5       account impacts on -- by bycatch, those types
 
           6       of things, trying to look at a set of proposals
 
           7       that will reach an optimum yield that will
 
           8       satisfy other impacts, other fisheries, other
 
           9       issues, be it bycatch, turtles, or whatever,
 
          10       trying to come up with that average.  That's
 
          11       where we're -- That's where we're trying to
 
          12       go.
 
          13            A couple of other terms, two last terms
 
          14       that you will hear over and over today and have
 
          15       heard, recruit overfishing defined as stocks
 
          16       that are exploited to a level where
 
          17       reproduction capacity is depressed, recruitment
 
          18       of young to the population is too low to
 
          19       support the current fishery.  This is the state
 
          20       that you do not want to reach.  It's very
 
          21       difficult, and -- and as I've tried to work my
 
          22       way through each process and look at other
 
          23       fisheries management issues, this is the key
 
          24       issue that -- that consistently has been
 
          25       difficult to detect until you're there and  --
 
 
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           1       and then you -- then you have really problems.
 
           2       How you -- How you find that is very -- is very
 
           3       difficult and -- and one that certainly is --
 
           4       is one that no one wants to achieve, but, in
 
           5       fact, in other fisheries where they have, it's
 
           6       been -- it's been really a disaster for them,
 
           7       so that's -- this is not where we want to go.
 
           8            What we look at -- And the other term
 
           9       you'll hear is growth overfishing, individuals
 
          10       caught at too young an age where benefits for
 
          11       future growth are lost, where more are caught
 
          12       but average weights are low, turtle -- total
 
          13       yield is less than if the young had been
 
          14       allowed to grow.  These are the conditions that
 
          15       we're facing now and our sign that when you get
 
          16       to this growth overfishing, you know what's
 
          17       coming next, so this is when you want to take
 
          18       that action to -- to try to -- to turn that
 
          19       around, and that's -- that again, is the basis
 
          20       of where we're at.
 
          21            Unless there's any particular questions, I
 
          22       want to now really go on to our guest speakers
 
          23       to address these issues.  And I -- I will go
 
          24       over and kind of give that introduction to all
 
          25       of our -- our scientists and then -- and then
 
 
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           1       we'll go from there, but first, I want to
 
           2       introduce you to Dr. Adolfo Gracia.
 
           3       Dr. Gracia, as you see here, is an
 
           4       international expert, world traveler, well
 
           5       recognized in the scientific community for the
 
           6       work that he does.  He's director and senior
 
           7       scientist at the Institute of Marine Science
 
           8       and Mammalogy of the National University of
 
           9       Mexico.  We're very fortunate to have him here
 
          10       with us.  Dr. Gracia really after hearing of
 
          11       our proposal and reading about it came forward
 
          12       to us and through e-mail, really, and -- and
 
          13       offered up that he had had these types of
 
          14       experience with overfishing of the shrimp
 
          15       stocks in -- in Mexico and -- and he has
 
          16       published on it widely and we asked him to come
 
          17       up and share his experiences that he has had in
 
          18       Mexico with you to illustrate the fact that, in
 
          19       fact, you can overfish shrimp stocks and it has
 
          20       happened more than once in Mexico, and I think
 
          21       you'll find that -- that very -- very
 
          22       illuminating.
 
          23            We have two other experts --
 
          24                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Excuse me, Larry.  I
 
          25       just -- just learned, and for those who like me
 
 
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           1       didn't know, benthic ecology, I understand, is
 
           2       the -- deals with this -- the bottom.
 
           3                 DR. MCKINNEY:  Yes, sir, the -- the
 
           4       animals and organisms that live in the
 
           5       substrate and upon which shrimp and others
 
           6       feed.  It's a very basic fundamental -- I would
 
           7       say it's probably the most important area in
 
           8       the marine ecologist because I'm a benthic
 
           9       ecologist myself by -- by the short train, but
 
          10       that's another -- that's another deal.
 
          11                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Put Andy on the
 
          12       spot.  He was worried as to whether his answer
 
          13       he was me was right or not.
 
          14                 DR. MCKINNEY:  I find that our
 
          15       executive director is nearly always correct, so
 
          16       I wasn't too worried.
 
          17                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  He is.
 
          18                 DR. MCKINNEY:  All right.  See if I
 
          19       can get back on track.  I would go -- I would
 
          20       like to go ahead at this time and -- and
 
          21       introduce our two remaining scientific
 
          22       speakers.  One, Dr. Roger Zimmerman who is the
 
          23       current director of National Marine Fisheries
 
          24       Laboratory at Galveston, Texas, and we know
 
          25       well as you can see here his history.  I've
 
 
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           1       known Dr. Zimmerman for -- for many years.  He
 
           2       did want to -- me to let you know that he is a
 
           3       native Texas, he was born and raised in South
 
           4       Texas so he's very much familiar with -- with
 
           5       Texas and our situation.  Widely educated
 
           6       through -- throughout Texas, Florida, and the
 
           7       University of Puerto Rico so he will be here
 
           8       obviously addressing the issue about agreements
 
           9       and issues with the National Marine Fishery
 
          10       Service.  And also joining him this morning is
 
          11       Dr. James Nance who is chief of the fishery
 
          12       management branch of the National -- the Marine
 
          13       Fisheries Laboratory there, and Mr. Nance has
 
          14       been widely quoted by many scientists, so we
 
          15       have him here today directly so that you-all
 
          16       can -- can hear their presentations and -- and
 
          17       talk to them.  So at this time unless there's
 
          18       any other questions from -- from you-all, I
 
          19       would like Dr. Gracia to come forward.
 
          20       Dr. Gracia has a superb grasp of English which
 
          21       I wish I equaled in Spanish but do not, but
 
          22       will ask Maria Rojo to come up and join him in
 
          23       case there's any kind of translation issues,
 
          24       but he -- he will handle himself well, so --
 
          25                 DR. GRACIA:  Thank you very much.
 
 
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           1       Nice to be here.  I'm am glad to be here to
 
           2       give you a broad overview of the shrimp fishery
 
           3       in the south of the Gulf of Mexico.  As you
 
           4       know, we share -- we share the same species
 
           5       that you have in the United States.  You can
 
           6       see that the -- the main fishing grounds, which
 
           7       are in the south of both of Mexico, one is in
 
           8       Tamaulipas state and the other is in the Bay of
 
           9       Campeche, which you know very well.  The
 
          10       problem we will -- we have had in the -- in the
 
          11       Gulf of Mexico is that the shrimp fishery was
 
          12       already exploited at -- fully exploited in the
 
          13       '80s, in the '70s, and a total -- the total
 
          14       shrimp reduction decreased around 50 percent in
 
          15       the last year.  What happened was the offshore
 
          16       fishing effort decreased, but this was because
 
          17       there was an increase in the artisanal fishing
 
          18       effort, meaning the inshore fishing effort and
 
          19       coastal fishing effort with the artisanal
 
          20       field.  What this happened was the fishery
 
          21       brought to a level to stay the same effort,
 
          22       same off -- offshore effort, but lower
 
          23       production.  Different fisheries were --
 
          24       artisanal were acting on nursery areas.  I
 
          25       mean, charangas is fixed net, drift nets on
 
 
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           1       white shrimp, and otter trawls on brown and
 
           2       pink shrimp.  This was harvesting juveniles,
 
           3       and the problem was they don't allow shrimp to
 
           4       grow at a maximum rate.  This -- The maximum
 
           5       size is -- is obtained offshore, and in Mexico,
 
           6       we have -- with the artisanal fishery, we have
 
           7       a loss of total volume mass in the ratio in the
 
           8       brown shrimp 1:4 kilograms.  That means a
 
           9       typical one juvenile kilogram of shrimp, you
 
          10       lost four in the offshore.  With -- Regarding
 
          11       pink shrimp, this is bigger because the shrimp
 
          12       is -- is a small size.  Pink shrimp is caught
 
          13       at small size.  This is -- The ratio is 1:9.
 
          14       And finally, white shrimp is 1:2.5.
 
          15            There the another thing we see in this
 
          16       problem, that's if we protect juveniles, it's
 
          17       60 percent more effective to -- for increasing
 
          18       spawning if you just protect offshore adult
 
          19       population.  As you can see, there is an
 
          20       inverse relationship with the offshore catch
 
          21       and the artisanal inshore catch.
 
          22            And we have some problems in the pink
 
          23       shrimp.  Fishing effort in the nursery area
 
          24       caused decreasing torrent in the -- in the
 
          25       '80s.  This was a problem that -- by
 
 
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           1       overgrowth -- overfishing that finally led to
 
           2       recruitment overfishing and caused a decrease
 
           3       in the total production.
 
           4            Another problem was the white shrimp.
 
           5       This was because -- mainly because a new
 
           6       artisanal fishery appeared in '93 -- 1993 that
 
           7       act mainly on the spawn of big shrimp.  And the
 
           8       end result, the offshore fishing effort
 
           9       decreased trawlers, decreased the fishing
 
          10       effort because fishing effort in artisanal
 
          11       increased in the -- and also in other shrimp
 
          12       life cycle stage.
 
          13            These two fisheries, coast and the
 
          14       unregulated artisanal effort increased that
 
          15       finally and led to growth overfishing.  And the
 
          16       problem was that interaction between inshore
 
          17       and offshore fisheries acting -- harvesting the
 
          18       same species were taking more and more shrimp
 
          19       from the population and the social pressure in
 
          20       inshore fisheries promote the increase of
 
          21       fishing effort independent of shrimp's
 
          22       population situation.
 
          23            Finally, what we have was this:  The white
 
          24       and pink shrimp collapsed and its production
 
          25       reduced to around 20 percent of the annual mean
 
 
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           1       production.  This was in sometime was around
 
           2       10 percent of the total production we have on
 
           3       white shrimp.
 
           4                 MR. SANSOM:  What year was that,
 
           5       Doctor?
 
           6                 DR. GRACIA:  It's from -- It's '73 to
 
           7       1980, the total production.  This was --
 
           8                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Where the collapse is
 
           9       is, what, the end of the 1980s?  It's hard for
 
          10       us to read the dates on here.
 
          11                 DR. GRACIA:  In white shrimp was in
 
          12       the '83 --
 
          13                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Uh-huh.
 
          14                 DR. GRACIA:  -- and the -- Also, in
 
          15       pink shrimp was around the '80s.  The -- The
 
          16       trend began to -- in the '80s and now in the
 
          17       '90s, the -- the shrimp fishery's really at
 
          18       the lowest state.
 
          19            While there was something that was talking
 
          20       about that -- Let's talk about that this stock
 
          21       recruitment relationship that is supposed not
 
          22       to be in -- in shrimp, we found a relationship
 
          23       between in the three of the species:  brown,
 
          24       white, and pink shrimp.  And this could serve
 
          25       to determine critical areas for spawning
 
 
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           1       stock.  You can -- In using this, you can
 
           2       control cumulative fishing to define a risk
 
           3       area where the spawning stock can be -- I mean,
 
           4       as due to the fishing effort.
 
           5            And also, this is very important because
 
           6       the model can be used to regulate fishing
 
           7       effort.  High-fishing effort is increased risk
 
           8       to their equipment, but optimal spawning
 
           9       biomass can permit shrimp to take advantage of
 
          10       interannual environmental viability.  This
 
          11       means that an enough population should be of
 
          12       shrimp to have the ultimate deal independent of
 
          13       the environmental evaluation.  It's been to use
 
          14       the environmental evaluation.
 
          15            The -- We cannot be on the edge of the
 
          16       risk area.  It's needed -- A more bigger stock
 
          17       is needed.  What we have in Mexico, what we use
 
          18       as regulation is closed season.  We have a
 
          19       closed season for brown shrimp.  This also for
 
          20       inshore and offshore shrimps.  The difference
 
          21       is that the inshore is 45 days and offshore
 
          22       shrimp is more.  The problem is different in
 
          23       the south of in the Campeche Bank where a long
 
          24       season has been set.  In the offshore fishery,
 
          25       it's six month and a half, the long closed
 
 
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           1       season, and the artisanal fisheries, I mean,
 
           2       inshore, and inshore is -- is open between
 
           3       these six months and a half.  In the -- And
 
           4       from August 1st to September, 45 days when
 
           5       there are more spawners and juveniles.  This is
 
           6       because of political pressures in the -- in the
 
           7       area.
 
           8            Well, there is -- There is another
 
           9       difference between brown shrimp.  It was fully
 
          10       exploited since the '80s.  We have the same
 
          11       thing, the artisanal fishery effort in inshore,
 
          12       in coast, growth overfishing, but a closure,
 
          13       both inshore and offshore was set in --
 
          14       during -- in '93 and reduced growth overfishing
 
          15       and changed the trend of total production as
 
          16       you can see in the picture.  This allowed an
 
          17       increase of total shrimp production of about
 
          18       4,000 tons in the -- in '93.
 
          19            Well, that now things are changing, the
 
          20       political and social pressures are increasing
 
          21       additional cash, the -- for increasing
 
          22       additional cash are dissipating the effect of
 
          23       the regulation and so the -- the juveniles and
 
          24       the spawning potential is not protected.
 
          25            Also, the long closed season in the
 
 
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           1       Campeche Bay Bank is promoting an increase of
 
           2       offshore fishing effort in the area and this is
 
           3       affecting the total production, also the
 
           4       spawning potential of -- of brown shrimp.
 
           5            Well, I would like to -- to end with some
 
           6       shrimp facts.  Shrimp stock are subjected to
 
           7       high harvesting levels in -- in Mexico.  The
 
           8       artisanal inshore and off -- and coastal
 
           9       fisheries are practically of open access.  And
 
          10       accumulative fishing effort along different
 
          11       life cycles stage is increasing.  And a
 
          12       stock-recruitment relationship exists, so
 
          13       recruitment failure and shrimp fishery
 
          14       collapses are possible.  But important and
 
          15       hopefully and optimistic is that the studies on
 
          16       white and brown shrimp suggest that the shrimp
 
          17       have a high capacity of recovering from
 
          18       depleted states.  The stock can be brought to
 
          19       the original state, but obviously is control of
 
          20       the fishing before is needed.  This is to
 
          21       achieve an adequate balance between the
 
          22       different fisheries in the -- in the Gulf of
 
          23       Mexico to optimize harvesting.
 
          24            Also, shrimp size can be optimized.  That
 
          25       could be good for economic reason and for
 
 
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           1       spawning potential.  And finally, optimal
 
           2       exploitation of juvenile stock requires the
 
           3       reduction of world overfishing while preventing
 
           4       recruitment overfishing.
 
           5            Thanks.
 
           6                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.  It's very
 
           7       interesting to see what's been going on in
 
           8       neighboring waters, which is something we -- we
 
           9       don't always have the opportunity to know.
 
          10            Anybody have any questions or things
 
          11       they'd like -- like to clarify?
 
          12                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  What was --
 
          13       What was the reaction of the shrimping industry
 
          14       to your -- to the closures and how do they feel
 
          15       about it now?
 
          16                 DR. GRACIA:  Well, the long closed
 
          17       season is -- But there are different reaction.
 
          18       The -- The brown shrimp closed season was for
 
          19       good.  That is a very good reaction in the
 
          20       offshore fishery because the brown shrimp now
 
          21       is -- is -- is coming back to the same growth
 
          22       of overfishing, and the 45 closure, both
 
          23       inshore and offshore was very well accepted.
 
          24       And the -- As a matter of fact, the offshore
 
          25       fishing industry promoted increase of the
 
 
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           1       offshore closed season beginning at the 1st of
 
           2       May.  This was -- At the beginning it was
 
           3       45 days both, and now it's more than 65 --
 
           4       60 days, around 60 days, but this was good
 
           5       because it increased total catch and increasing
 
           6       sometimes in the degrees of shrimp size.  The
 
           7       problem is that the artisan -- the inshore
 
           8       poaching and -- and also, the increasing
 
           9       fishing effort before the closed season is
 
          10       dissipating the -- the revenues of the -- of
 
          11       the closed season.  It's different in the
 
          12       south, in the Campeche Bank, because this is a
 
          13       long -- a long closed season and it's no good
 
          14       for the industry because they don't have enough
 
          15       time to -- to fish and they have to move to
 
          16       Tamaulipas grounds and this is more expensive
 
          17       and it's also increasing the fishing, offshore
 
          18       fishing effort.
 
          19            And as I told you, the problem is that the
 
          20       inshore fishing is -- is allowed during the
 
          21       time that it will be closed to spawner for
 
          22       protecting the spawners and juveniles, for
 
          23       white and pink shrimp.  White shrimp is -- the
 
          24       peak of recruitment is due in August,
 
          25       September, and also is the -- is the more
 
 
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           1       important reproductive season and for pink
 
           2       shrimp, it's important to protect recruits,
 
           3       juveniles, in the -- during the September.  So
 
           4       the fishing, offshore fishing industry is not
 
           5       very -- It didn't accept very well this long
 
           6       closed season.
 
           7            I think another combination could be done
 
           8       to -- to keep the population to a good state
 
           9       without affecting the whole shrimp fishery in
 
          10       the Gulf.
 
          11                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you very much.
 
          12       We appreciate your making the effort to -- to
 
          13       come and speak to us today.
 
          14                 DR. GRACIA:  Thank you.
 
          15                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Very good
 
          16       presentation.
 
          17                 DR. GRACIA:  Thank you very much.
 
          18                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.
 
          19                 DR. MCKINNEY:  I think now we've got
 
          20       Dr. Nance and Zimmerman, if you'll come on up
 
          21       and --
 
          22                 DR. ZIMMERMAN:  Good morning.  I'm
 
          23       Dr. Zimmerman.  I'm the head of the National
 
          24       Marine Fishery Service Laboratory in
 
          25       Galveston.  We've -- We've been in the shrimp
 
 
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           1       laboratory for many, many years since -- since
 
           2       the '50s.  Today, I'll be representing Dr. Bill
 
           3       Hogarth who is the regional administrator of
 
           4       the Southeast Fisheries Service and he has
 
           5       recently taken a temporary position as the
 
           6       deputy administrator of the National Marine
 
           7       Ser -- Fishery Service in Silver Spring, so
 
           8       he's not able to be here.  He and I have --
 
           9       have gone over some points.  He has developed
 
          10       these points, ten different points that we
 
          11       would like to -- sort of summary points that
 
          12       we'd like to emphasize to you and -- and
 
          13       provide as the position for the National Marine
 
          14       Fishery Service.
 
          15            I have with me Dr. Jim Nance, and
 
          16       Dr. Nance is a -- is at the Galveston
 
          17       laboratory as well.  He is the division chief
 
          18       of the fishery management branch and he deals
 
          19       almost exclusively with the shrimp fishing
 
          20       industry and analysis of the data and
 
          21       keeping -- keeping the data reporting to the
 
          22       Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and
 
          23       also interacting with the shrimp industry
 
          24       and -- and speaking for our agency as well.
 
          25            So I'd like to get started.  One of the --
 
 
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           1       One of the things that has come up is -- is a
 
           2       statement that there is a conflict between
 
           3       fisheries, the fishery service data and -- and
 
           4       the Parks and Wildlife data, and I'd like to
 
           5       clarify that and say that there is no conflict,
 
           6       that, in fact, we use the same fishery
 
           7       dependent data.  The catch statistics that the
 
           8       Texas Parks and Wildlife uses and that we use
 
           9       are -- are collected by the same group of
 
          10       people, and these are our port agents that we
 
          11       have throughout the state of Texas and other --
 
          12       other areas, so there's -- In terms of fishery
 
          13       landings and catch per unit effort in the
 
          14       fishery, there's -- there is no conflict in
 
          15       that -- in that data itself.
 
          16            Also, the -- the status of the stocks.
 
          17       We're not -- We're not advocating that
 
          18       recruitment overfishing has occurred.  Texas
 
          19       Parks and Wildlife is not advocating that or
 
          20       proclaiming that recruitment overfishing has
 
          21       occurred.  We all know that this is not where
 
          22       we want to go, and I think everybody is in
 
          23       agreement on that that -- that we should avoid
 
          24       this recruitment overfishing, which is -- which
 
          25       is basically beginning to -- would be fishing
 
 
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           1       to the point of impacting the parent stock, in
 
           2       other words, the brood stock.  You don't want
 
           3       to do that.  You don't want to -- You don't
 
           4       want to lose your brood cows because those --
 
           5       those are the ones that will give you your
 
           6       production that you want for the next years and
 
           7       in the future.
 
           8            Growth overfishing we do believe has
 
           9       occurred.  Texas Parks and Wildlife says that
 
          10       they believe that it's occurred as well.
 
          11       Growth overfishing is basically a condition
 
          12       where we're at the point of -- of -- of utilize
 
          13       or -- or fishing the biomass down.  We're
 
          14       fishing it too young.  We have more fishermen
 
          15       impacting the biomass than are needed or
 
          16       necessary and that the biomass is not allowed
 
          17       to develop to its -- its maximum potential.
 
          18            We believe because of this situation,
 
          19       believe -- we believe that the -- that the gulf
 
          20       stocks are being exploited at their maximum
 
          21       level.  There are -- There's a lot of
 
          22       variability in it from year to year.  Of
 
          23       course, this can -- can change from year to
 
          24       year.  Sometimes you -- Some years you may be
 
          25       taking actually too much.  Other times you may
 
 
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           1       not be taking as much as you could, but we
 
           2       believe that the gulf stocks are being
 
           3       exploited at their maximum level and that an
 
           4       increased amount of effort would not increase
 
           5       the yield and that, in fact, and we've done
 
           6       analysis -- we've -- This is nothing new.  We
 
           7       have reported this many times, the -- the Gulf
 
           8       of Mexico Fishery Management Council that
 
           9       reduction in effort would, in fact, result in
 
          10       almost -- almost the same amount of yield.
 
          11       There could be some reduction in effort and we
 
          12       still get the same amount of yield.
 
          13            Reduction of effort in the -- in the bays
 
          14       on small shrimp is something that -- that could
 
          15       improve the situation.  It will produce higher
 
          16       yields or greater -- greater biomass offshore.
 
          17       This is precisely why we had the Texas closure,
 
          18       to allow that to -- to happen and that has --
 
          19       that has worked.  We've done some analysis for
 
          20       the Louisiana fishery where they fish mostly
 
          21       inshore and have shown that they, in fact, are
 
          22       losing production or biomass that could be
 
          23       attained for -- for the offshore.
 
          24            The declines of -- of catch per unit
 
          25       effort, especially in the late '80s were
 
 
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           1       certainly a warning sign for everyone.
 
           2       Basically what it said was if you're -- if
 
           3       you're starting to get a decline in the -- the
 
           4       catch that each fisherman has available, then
 
           5       you're getting close to that point of -- of
 
           6       overexploitation.  You're starting to walk the
 
           7       line of maybe getting close to even recruitment
 
           8       overfishing.  There has been through the '90s
 
           9       the decline occurred and there has been some --
 
          10       offshore there has been some reduction in
 
          11       effort and, in fact, the CPUs have -- have
 
          12       responded in the last few years and -- and come
 
          13       back up somewhat.  They're not quite at what
 
          14       they were before the 19 -- early -- mid 1980s,
 
          15       but this is just an example that effort is
 
          16       still too -- too high.  If -- If effort could
 
          17       be brought down somewhat, that that would
 
          18       improve the stocks and the -- and the ability
 
          19       to -- to use these stocks more efficiently.
 
          20            One of things that  -- that we advocate as
 
          21       managers, and I think that all resource
 
          22       managers advocate, is a conservative approach.
 
          23       One of the things that -- And we have to do
 
          24       that.  We don't have all the answers as to why
 
          25       stocks respond from year to year, why we have a
 
 
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           1       good year this year, why we had a bad year in
 
           2       another year.  We don't have all of those
 
           3       answers and we can't predict those very
 
           4       precisely.  So because we don't have those
 
           5       answers, we have to manage conservatively.
 
           6       We've got to manage for -- We have to manage
 
           7       for the worst years and we can't afford to
 
           8       overexploit the stocks.  We can't afford to --
 
           9       to -- even going beyond -- beyond fishing
 
          10       itself, we can't afford to destroy the -- lose
 
          11       the habitats.  That has a big effect as well.
 
          12       We -- We need to manage conservatively.  We
 
          13       need to conserve the stock, keep a healthy
 
          14       stock.  We also -- And that means we take a
 
          15       low-risk strategy.  We're going to do those
 
          16       things that give us the lease amount of risk.
 
          17            We also -- Going beyond fisheries, beyond
 
          18       the fishing itself, shrimp and other kinds
 
          19       of -- of organisms are important in the
 
          20       ecosystem.  We want to maintain a healthy
 
          21       ecosystem and we need to base our management
 
          22       upon the ecosystem itself and manage -- and --
 
          23       and keeping enough shrimp biomass to -- to
 
          24       maintain a healthy ecosystem.
 
          25            The -- By reduction in -- in shrimp
 
 
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           1       trawling, especially in the near-shore area,
 
           2       there are some other kinds of -- of
 
           3       improvements that we can make.  One is an
 
           4       improvement in -- in reducing bycatch, just the
 
           5       reduction of effort.  We've done some gear
 
           6       modifications.  Everybody is -- is very much
 
           7       aware of -- of TEDs and -- and BRDs, bycatch
 
           8       reduction devices, and the gear technology that
 
           9       the industry is implementing and implementing
 
          10       very well to reduce bycatch.  The industry
 
          11       doesn't want to catch sea turtles or -- or
 
          12       extra fish any more than anybody else.  They
 
          13       want to catch shrimp.  And -- But one of the --
 
          14       One of the things that one can -- can do to
 
          15       improve the -- reduce the bycatch relationships
 
          16       is -- is through closures, special very
 
          17       targeted closures.  And, of course, some of
 
          18       those areas, one area is being proposed off
 
          19       of -- of the near shore and where sea turtles
 
          20       occur in higher numbers and -- and we are
 
          21       obviously advocate the protection of endangered
 
          22       species, which is the charge of -- of NMFS
 
          23       is -- is an important thing that -- that a
 
          24       closure could -- could improve.
 
          25            Also, there's -- Over the recent decades,
 
 
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           1       many fisheries throughout the nation have been
 
           2       overcapitalized.  That just means that
 
           3       there's -- there are more boats out there and
 
           4       more fishing and more fishing gear than -- than
 
           5       some of the stocks can sustain.  Some of them
 
           6       have been overfished and NMFS recognizes that
 
           7       there are stocks that have been overfished,
 
           8       some such as the shrimp fishing stocks or
 
           9       shrimp stocks are at maximum levels.  That's --
 
          10       That's what the NMFS' position that -- that
 
          11       shrimp stocks are being fished at maximum
 
          12       levels.
 
          13            We -- We believe that a reduction in
 
          14       capitalization of the overall fishing
 
          15       throughout the -- throughout the nation is
 
          16       warranted.  There -- There is a goal that NMFS
 
          17       has put into place and that's basically to
 
          18       reduce the amount of capitalization and --
 
          19       and fishing effort by about 15 percent.
 
          20       Fifteen percent doesn't sound much -- like
 
          21       much, but it is -- it's an important amount and
 
          22       it takes us perhaps in the right direction, and
 
          23       that goal is to achieve this within the next
 
          24       four to five years.
 
          25            And that's -- That's all I really have to
 
 
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           1       say.  Those are the ten points that -- that I
 
           2       bring to you and I'd be happy to take some
 
           3       questions.
 
           4                 COMMISSIONER RYAN:  Dr. Zimmerman,
 
           5       I'd like to ask you a question pertaining to
 
           6       the drought.  Do you-all notice a substantial
 
           7       reduction in shrimp when we go through a dry
 
           8       spell like we're going through now?
 
           9                 DR. ZIMMERMAN:  There -- There's a
 
          10       relationship between the drought and the
 
          11       salinity in the estuaries and salinity --
 
          12       salinities -- the estuaries are what provide
 
          13       the nurseries for shrimp production.
 
          14       Salinity -- Salinities can either be too high
 
          15       or they can be too low.  And there's kind of a
 
          16       moderate range and -- and it's different for
 
          17       different species.  Brown shrimp like the
 
          18       nursery to be a little bit saltier.  This year
 
          19       the -- because of the drought, actually it is
 
          20       im -- it's increased the salinity in the
 
          21       nursery and improved the -- the total nursery
 
          22       area for brown shrimp, so we're -- That's part
 
          23       of the reason why -- And especially up in
 
          24       Louisiana -- part of the reason why we're
 
          25       having a very -- or we believe that we're
 
 
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           1       having a very good brown shrimp year.
 
           2            Now, white shrimp, it's a little bit
 
           3       different and it remains to be seen.  We'll --
 
           4       We'll see what -- what the white shrimp
 
           5       produce.  Now, if salinity -- If the drought
 
           6       were to continue and those salinities got even
 
           7       higher yet, say, if we -- the drought continued
 
           8       into next year, it could have a detrimental
 
           9       effect on -- on brown shrimp and -- and any of
 
          10       the -- any of the shrimp.  That -- That
 
          11       actually -- We believe that that did happen
 
          12       back in the '50s when we had a very prolonged
 
          13       and severe drought.
 
          14                 COMMISSIONER RYAN:  So the -- The
 
          15       time of the drought really doesn't impact it,
 
          16       say, if we went into a drought in the spring as
 
          17       we haven't this year, but we went into it here
 
          18       in the summer, and depending on how long it
 
          19       would last, it's -- it's not the time of the
 
          20       drought as much as the length of the drought?
 
          21                 DR. ZIMMERMAN:  Well, the -- the
 
          22       timing does have an effect as well and -- and I
 
          23       want to just -- just say that -- that if you --
 
          24       if you have relatively higher salinities in the
 
          25       marsh, and we're not talking about extreme
 
 
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           1       salinities, but -- but higher salinities in the
 
           2       marsh during the spring, then that can increase
 
           3       the area of nursery available to brown shrimp,
 
           4       which -- which are using it mainly in the
 
           5       spring.  Now, if you -- if you -- White shrimp
 
           6       need a little bit fresher water.  If you
 
           7       have -- that extends into the -- into the
 
           8       summer and you have very high or -- or too high
 
           9       salinities for white shrimp during the summer,
 
          10       you could have a detrimental effect on -- So
 
          11       the timing is -- is important as well.
 
          12                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:
 
          13       Mr. Chairman -- Dr. Zimmerman, thank you for
 
          14       coming in your official capacity.  It's a great
 
          15       help.  You had mentioned that NMFS has
 
          16       responsibility for endangered species and I
 
          17       would appreciate your sharing with us what
 
          18       other charges or mandates or authorities the
 
          19       National Marine Fishery Service has with regard
 
          20       to shrimp.
 
          21                 DR. ZIMMERMAN:  Well, the main
 
          22       authority, of course, is to manage offshore
 
          23       fisheries in -- in federal waters through the
 
          24       Magnuson-Stevens Act and that --
 
          25                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Isn't that
 
 
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           1       regulatory authority?
 
           2                 DR. ZIMMERMAN:  Yes, we have
 
           3       regulatory authority offshore.
 
           4                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Do you --
 
           5                 DR. ZIMMERMAN:  We are -- That --
 
           6       That -- That actually provides us the
 
           7       regulatory authority and -- and -- and we're
 
           8       actually prohibited from allowing the stock to
 
           9       be overfished through that -- through that --
 
          10       that law, so --
 
          11                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Do you see
 
          12       that the proposed changes that the Parks and
 
          13       Wildlife Department stamp has brought forward
 
          14       being consistent with the types of work that
 
          15       you're doing in the federal waters?
 
          16                 DR. ZIMMERMAN:  I do believe that.  I
 
          17       think that -- that in going back to this
 
          18       management of our resources and taking a
 
          19       conservative approach, I think that both of us,
 
          20       both Parks and Wildlife and National Marine
 
          21       Fishery Service are -- are actually required to
 
          22       take a conservative approach, and I think we
 
          23       are.
 
          24                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  When I hear
 
          25       you say "conservative," one of the things that
 
 
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           1       comes to mind is the notion of conservation,
 
           2       and is that one of the objectives that you have
 
           3       here, resource conservation?
 
           4                 DR. ZIMMERMAN:  Oh, abs --
 
           5       absolutely.  It also means that we want -- we
 
           6       want to take a low-risk approach, so it's
 
           7       conservative to -- to different meanings of the
 
           8       word one -- one certainly would want to -- to
 
           9       conserve the resources and maintain the
 
          10       resources and that would be through
 
          11       conservation, but -- but also from -- from just
 
          12       a fishing standpoint, the agency is required to
 
          13       take a low-risk approach to management, so
 
          14       that's -- that's conservative approach as well.
 
          15                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Is part of
 
          16       your charge to deal with commercial fisheries?
 
          17                 DR. ZIMMERMAN:  Oh, yes, it is,
 
          18       absolutely.  And -- And historically, most of
 
          19       the offshore fisheries in federal waters have
 
          20       been the predominant -- predominant fisheries
 
          21       have been commercial fisheries.  The
 
          22       recreational fisheries are starting to become
 
          23       more important offshore, but the -- but the
 
          24       large fisheries offshore have -- have primarily
 
          25       been -- or a large take offshore has been
 
 
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           1       primarily commercial.  And as a matter of fact,
 
           2       the National Marine Fishery Service was derived
 
           3       or -- or recreated from the Bureau of
 
           4       Commercial Fisheries at the end of the 1960s.
 
           5                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  And I have one
 
           6       other question.  Dr. McKinney had mentioned in
 
           7       the review view of your credentials there are
 
           8       an impressive number of peer-reviewed articles
 
           9       and specifically mentioned that among these are
 
          10       those dealing with shrimp fishery, but we
 
          11       didn't get that same information about
 
          12       Dr. Nance --
 
          13                 DR. ZIMMERMAN:  Uh-huh.
 
          14                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  -- and it's my
 
          15       understanding that you have published
 
          16       peer-reviewed articles.
 
          17                 DR. NANCE:  Yes.  Absolutely.
 
          18                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  And in the
 
          19       area of shrimp fisheries?
 
          20                 DR. NANCE:  Yes.  And the key -- And
 
          21       as Roger mentioned, the National Marine Fishery
 
          22       Service has the charge to deal with -- with
 
          23       shrimp fisheries.  It's important to remember
 
          24       that -- that this is a stock within the Gulf of
 
          25       Mexico.  It occurs both off of Texas and off of
 
 
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           1       Louisiana and -- and elsewhere.  The
 
           2       overfishing definitions that were developed
 
           3       were developed so that we could monitor the
 
           4       status of that stock, which is -- which is a
 
           5       very, very important stock within the Gulf of
 
           6       Mexico and as -- and as Dr. Zimmerman
 
           7       mentioned, the stocks are not in a recruitment
 
           8       overfished state, and -- so we need to avoid
 
           9       that, and as Roger mentioned, effort has come
 
          10       town, CPUE seems to have gone up in the -- in
 
          11       the last part of the '90s, but those conditions
 
          12       are still -- we need to monitor that fishery
 
          13       because it is so important.
 
          14                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  It's my
 
          15       understanding that -- and in some of your
 
          16       published works and peer-review literature that
 
          17       you have observed that you think there is a
 
          18       possibility of a decline in -- I think it is a
 
          19       decline -- no, a possibility of recruitment
 
          20       overfishing of the current shrimp stock.
 
          21                 DR. NANCE:  Well, there's -- There's
 
          22       always the possibility and, you know, as -- as
 
          23       Dr. Zimmerman mentioned, if we've done modeling
 
          24       where we've looked at with closures off of
 
          25       Louisiana and off of Texas that there is
 
 
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           1       potential to increase the yield because of the
 
           2       capture of small shrimp, but that becomes an
 
           3       allocation issue and -- which is something that
 
           4       management needs to deal with as far as
 
           5       recruitment overfishing, there's always that
 
           6       possibility, but with those -- with the
 
           7       definitions that we have in place, they all
 
           8       seem to be above that -- that value right now.
 
           9                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  So we're
 
          10       looking at a possibility?
 
          11                 DR. NANCE:  Well, sure.
 
          12                 DR. ZIMMERMAN:  Sure.
 
          13                 DR. NANCE:  And that -- And that's
 
          14       why we have overfishing definitions --
 
          15                 DR. ZIMMERMAN:  Sure.  And -- And --
 
          16                 DR. NANCE:  -- is so that we can
 
          17       monitor that and make sure we don't get down to
 
          18       those -- to those critical levels.
 
          19                 DR. ZIMMERMAN:  And when you have
 
          20       a -- a stock that is -- you deem is being
 
          21       exploited at its maximum level, you want --
 
          22       you're walking the -- you're getting close to
 
          23       the line, and so that possibility is something
 
          24       that you need to pay close attention to.  So if
 
          25       you have a stock that is much, much below
 
 
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           1       the -- what you deem might be a take level or
 
           2       maximum take level, then you would -- you would
 
           3       be less worried about it.
 
           4                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Mr. Chairman,
 
           5       excuse me.  I just wanted to say that
 
           6       Dr. Zimmerman and Dr. Nance were referred to
 
           7       in, I think, our last meeting and in some to
 
           8       have briefing papers.
 
           9            And I think it's a great help to have you
 
          10       here in person to explain your position and I
 
          11       appreciate the Department staff inviting them
 
          12       and NMFS making it possible for you to come.
 
          13                 DR. ZIMMERMAN:  Thank you very much.
 
          14                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Are you-all
 
          15       considering any additional regulations in
 
          16       federal waters at this time?
 
          17                 DR. NANCE:  No.
 
          18                 DR. ZIMMERMAN:  No, we're not.
 
          19       The -- The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management
 
          20       Council in our dealings with them are -- are
 
          21       considering some -- some different -- different
 
          22       kinds of -- of approaches, but at this point,
 
          23       we're not.
 
          24                 MR. SANSOM:  Dr. Zimmerman, I'd like
 
          25       to -- to -- back to that question of
 
 
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           1       recruitment overfishing, which is only a
 
           2       possibility at this time.  I would like to --
 
           3       to -- to refer back to the comment that you
 
           4       made earlier and that is that the step below
 
           5       that, which is growth overfishing is occurring
 
           6       and we agree on that point.
 
           7                 DR. ZIMMERMAN:  Yes.
 
           8                 COMMISSIONER RYAN:  Have you-all
 
           9       looked the staff's recommendations as
 
          10       presented?
 
          11                 DR. ZIMMERMAN:  Not in -- Not in a
 
          12       critical detail or critical -- as a critical.
 
          13       We've looked at some of the rec -- but at this
 
          14       point, we haven't reviewed them critically and
 
          15       I don't anticipate that we would necessarily.
 
          16       I -- I think that -- that it's -- that from our
 
          17       standpoint, because we're -- I think that what
 
          18       Texas does in Texas waters is something that
 
          19       Texas needs to decide and -- and, of course,
 
          20       we're -- what we're providing to you is
 
          21       information for -- for the offshore waters
 
          22       and -- and the EEZ.
 
          23                 COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Dr. Zimmerman,
 
          24       when you were questioned about the issues
 
          25       relating to ownership of the resources
 
 
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           1       themselves in the waters, how do you generally
 
           2       address that briefly.
 
           3                 DR. ZIMMERMAN:  These are public
 
           4       resources.  They're the -- and they're owned by
 
           5       the public.  That's basically how we -- we
 
           6       approach that.
 
           7                 COMMISSIONER HENRY:  Does
 
           8       Dr. Gracia's comments with regard to the
 
           9       declines that he specified and happened during
 
          10       the '80s in Mexico cause your Department any
 
          11       additional concerns for the Texas and upper
 
          12       gulf areas?
 
          13                 DR. ZIMMERMAN:  Well, it's -- It is
 
          14       an example of how changes in effort in one
 
          15       place, increased effort in one place can affect
 
          16       the catch in another place and if you reduce
 
          17       that amount of effort, well, you can -- you
 
          18       can -- It's an example of how the inshore
 
          19       fishery can affect the offshore fishery, and
 
          20       that's as -- basically it's a good example of
 
          21       that.
 
          22                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Dr. Zimmerman, I had
 
          23       a question that I'd like to ask you and/or
 
          24       Dr. Nance.  The -- One of the first things that
 
          25       you did was clarify for us that the data that
 
 
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           1       you work off of is basically identical to the
 
           2       data that the state is working off of.  My --
 
           3                 DR. ZIMMERMAN:  And let me just make
 
           4       sure that we're clear on this.
 
           5                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  The same sources.
 
           6                 DR. ZIMMERMAN:  We're talking about
 
           7       the same source and we're talking about the
 
           8       catch data, the fishery dependent data.
 
           9                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Would -- Would you be
 
          10       able to give us a professional opinion as to
 
          11       whether the:  a) quality and b) quantity of the
 
          12       data that is available for Fisheries biologists
 
          13       to use is -- is adequate or of -- of enough
 
          14       sufficient quantity and quality to make the
 
          15       kinds of management decisions that -- that
 
          16       we're looking at making?  And I say this
 
          17       realizing every scientist would like to have
 
          18       more data and feel better about their theories
 
          19       and that --
 
          20                 DR. ZIMMERMAN:  That's exactly right.
 
          21                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  -- but you know --
 
          22                 DR. ZIMMERMAN:  We never -- We never
 
          23       have enough data.
 
          24                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Right.
 
          25                 DR. ZIMMERMAN:  We always like to
 
 
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           1       have that extra piece of data that can sort of
 
           2       make our decisions much -- much more -- we can
 
           3       make our decisions more confidently.  On the
 
           4       other hand, the collection of the data is -- is
 
           5       very extensive.  There are port agents
 
           6       throughout the state that -- that take data in
 
           7       the major fishing ports and they -- they go to
 
           8       dealers and the dealers are required by law to
 
           9        -- to report their -- the landings that come
 
          10       into their -- to each -- each dealer.  So
 
          11       that's -- that's actually a fairly good --
 
          12       good -- The landings are fairly good, almost a
 
          13       census of -- of -- of the amount that's -- that
 
          14       is caught.  We do do some interviews and -- and
 
          15       to -- to find out where -- where fishermen are
 
          16       catching and how many hours they fish here or
 
          17       fish there.  That data could be -- could be
 
          18       improved to allow us to get better handles on
 
          19       catch per unit effort, but even that is a very
 
          20       robust data source and it's gone through
 
          21       many -- many reviews.  We -- We have -- Let me
 
          22       tell you, this question has been asked many,
 
          23       many times, and so it has been reviewed, it's
 
          24       been picked over and the flaws have been
 
          25       pointed out and we've certainly tried to deal
 
 
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           1       with them increasing number of interviews and
 
           2       that sort of thing as -- as best we can.
 
           3            The data that we have, and this is true
 
           4       anywhere, are the data that we have.  We -- We
 
           5       have to -- Whatever decision we have to make,
 
           6       we have to make on those.  We'd always like to
 
           7       have more data and -- and better data.  We --
 
           8       We would fully recognize that.  But you have to
 
           9       go on the data that you have.
 
          10                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  And basically, the
 
          11       data that we have on the shrimp fishery is -- I
 
          12       think you used the word "robust" in both
 
          13       quantity and the quality is -- is -- is pretty
 
          14       good?
 
          15                 DR. ZIMMERMAN:  It's -- It's a robust
 
          16       data set.
 
          17                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.
 
          18            Any other questions for these gentlemen
 
          19       who were kind enough to -- to share their time
 
          20       and expertise with us?
 
          21                 MR. SANSOM:  Thank you both very
 
          22       much.
 
          23                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you very much.
 
          24                 DR. ZIMMERMAN:  Thank you.
 
          25                 DR. NANCE:  Thank you.
 
 
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           1                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  We're very
 
           2       appreciative.
 
           3            The chair would also like to take time to
 
           4       recognize the Representative Solis from the
 
           5       Valley has -- has joined us at this morning's
 
           6       hearing, and I understand that we look forward
 
           7       to -- to hearing from him in the afternoon
 
           8       session and we appreciate his participation and
 
           9       interest in what we do.
 
          10                 DR. MCKINNEY:  Mr. Chairman, at this
 
          11       time, I'd like to introduce Hal Osburn, head of
 
          12       coastal fisheries to lay out before you the
 
          13       staff proposal.
 
          14                 MR. OSBURN:  Thank you,
 
          15       Mr. Chairman.  Members, I'm Hal Osburn, coastal
 
          16       fisheries division director.  As you recall,
 
          17       last spring staff completed a comprehensive
 
          18       scientific review and outreach effort for
 
          19       improving the management of shrimp.  Following
 
          20       a meeting of the Shrimp Advisory Committee, the
 
          21       Commission's Regulations Committee at their May
 
          22       31st meeting approved a set of proposed shrimp
 
          23       regulations for publication in the
 
          24       Texas Register.  Staff held eight public
 
          25       hearings and we were attempting to gather
 
 
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           1       additional stakeholder input on those
 
           2       proposals.  The hearings were well attended,
 
           3       had a wild diversity of opinions, and I would
 
           4       note that Commissioners Watson, Avila, Angelo,
 
           5       and Ryan attended some of these hearings and I
 
           6       thank them for that.  And again, in an effort
 
           7       to broaden the outreach process, staff brought
 
           8       together the 12-member Shrimp Advisory
 
           9       Committee for two separate meetings.  To
 
          10       enhance these discussions with a greater
 
          11       diversity of stakeholders we also put together
 
          12       a 14-member shrimp working group to be
 
          13       included.
 
          14            Let me summarize the comments that we
 
          15       received this summer.  We've had over 5500
 
          16       individual comments.  About 80 percent of those
 
          17       were from in-state.  Over 85 percent of those
 
          18       comments spoke to the entire package of the
 
          19       shrimp proposals and we had 96 percent of -- of
 
          20       those comments were in favor of the complete
 
          21       set of -- of the proposals.  Many individuals
 
          22       also made reference to specific proposals, most
 
          23       numerous were in regards to the -- to the new
 
          24       bay and fishery areas, the gear restrictions in
 
          25       the gulf, and the additional time and area of
 
 
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           1       closures in the gulf.
 
           2                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Mr. Osburn,
 
           3       how -- how -- if you said, how many of the --
 
           4       or what percentage of the favorable comments do
 
           5       you think came from people that are engaged in
 
           6       the commercial fishery.
 
           7                 MR. OSBURN:  The percent that came
 
           8       from folks that were in the fishery --
 
           9                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  In the
 
          10       commercial shipping end.
 
          11                 MR. OSBURN:  I don't -- I don't know
 
          12       if we have -- They didn't -- They didn't
 
          13       necessarily identify themselves, but we did
 
          14       have -- We did have a num -- I would call it a
 
          15       substantial number of folks that spoke in favor
 
          16       of some of the proposals that were engaged in
 
          17       the fishery.
 
          18            This summer's comments period obviously
 
          19       did -- did generate a lot of -- a lot of people
 
          20       with a lot of strong opinions about the shrimp
 
          21       fishery and I don't think that should come as
 
          22       any surprise.
 
          23            First, the -- Shrimp are a very valuable
 
          24       commodity and -- and there has been major
 
          25       capital investment made in an effort to harvest
 
 
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           1       that commodity.
 
           2            Second, the shrimp fleet has grown in size
 
           3       and scope over the years to the point where
 
           4       it's capable of having major impacts on our
 
           5       public resources and habitats.  I think the
 
           6       Commission recognized this when they adopted
 
           7       the Texas Shrimp Fishery Management Plan in
 
           8       1989, and that plan established a clear
 
           9       management strategy and that continues to guide
 
          10       the staff in trying to resolve the problems
 
          11       within the fishery and the conflicts among the
 
          12       stakeholders on this public resource.
 
          13            Very quickly, those management strategies
 
          14       call for accelerating the voluntary license
 
          15       buyback that in the -- in the limited entry
 
          16       program created by the legislature in 1995
 
          17       protecting juvenile shrimp to allow growth to a
 
          18       larger size, greater survival of shrimp to
 
          19       maturity to increase the spawning success and
 
          20       reducing the bycatch of the nontargeted species
 
          21       as we try to manage biodiversity in our bays
 
          22       and gulf.  And finally, where possible,
 
          23       increase the harvest efficiencies and
 
          24       opportunities within the fishery.
 
          25            I will tell you that formulating rules to
 
 
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           1       achieve all of these goals is difficult because
 
           2       it's not strictly a biological ecological
 
           3       decision.  Sociology and economics have to be
 
           4       factored in.  However, after review of all of
 
           5       the relevant public comments and the best
 
           6       scientific information available to us, staff
 
           7       does have some conclusions and recommendations
 
           8       for the Commission.
 
           9            We conclude that there is a valid
 
          10       scientific basis for shrimp overfishing
 
          11       concerns.  For example, the increasing trend in
 
          12       the harvest of the smallest size shrimp which
 
          13       documents growth overfishing.  Shrimping
 
          14       effort, particularly in the bays has increased
 
          15       dramatically in the last several decades and we
 
          16       believe that that needs to be reversed for
 
          17       long-term benefits.  And the declining catch
 
          18       rates in the bay and gulf are a clear
 
          19       indication that a proactive management strategy
 
          20       is warranted.
 
          21            All of the original proposals have some
 
          22       merit in achieving our objectives.  But we do
 
          23       believe it's possible to simplify the proposals
 
          24       without sacrificing scientific integrity, so we
 
          25       offer the following revised proposals for
 
 
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           1       Commission action:
 
           2            First, we would recommend two
 
           3       liberalizations to take effect as soon as
 
           4       possible:  Increase the net size for seabobs to
 
           5       34 feet and extend the bait-fish season by
 
           6       adding the month of May.
 
           7            To address conservation needs, the Shrimp
 
           8       Fishery Management Plan basically tells us that
 
           9       time and area closures are the preferred
 
          10       management tools.  And I will tell you that
 
          11       thanks to our -- our year-around coastwide
 
          12       department monitoring programs, staff had
 
          13       available to them 17 consecutive years of trawl
 
          14       data to evaluate the -- the areas best suited
 
          15       for looking at area closures for juvenile
 
          16       shrimp nurseries.
 
          17            Let me -- Let me show you an example of
 
          18       those data for Aransas Bay going through the
 
          19       time series of the year.  The orange and red
 
          20       dots represent the highest densities of the
 
          21       juveniles and we had -- we looked at these data
 
          22       for the entire coast.  Basically these data
 
          23       represent about 27,000 trawl samples taken
 
          24       by -- by this department.
 
          25            With that in mind, we recommend to be
 
 
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           1       effective by December the adoption of all of
 
           2       the originally proposed new nursery areas and
 
           3       bait bays on the upper coast with the exception
 
           4       of a small decrease in the proposed nursery
 
           5       area in East Bay, which is part of the
 
           6       Galveston bay system and that would allow for
 
           7       the continuation of a small boat bait fishery
 
           8       near that area.  On the lower coast, we
 
           9       recommend adoption of all of the original bait
 
          10       and nursery areas.
 
          11            For time closures, we will continue to
 
          12       recommend a shortening of the four-month fall
 
          13       bay system -- bay season by 15 days.  The near
 
          14       shore gulf fishery is currently open 8 1/2
 
          15       months of the year.  We recommend reducing this
 
          16       by 30 days during the winter, and we would
 
          17       recommend these rules be effective by this
 
          18       December.
 
          19            Bycatch reduction devices are recommended
 
          20       for all trawls except commercial and
 
          21       recreational bait shrimp trawls.  And the
 
          22       federal rules for turtle excluder devices in
 
          23       gulf trawls are recommended as state rules as
 
          24       well.  And these rules we would recommend
 
          25       delaying until September of 2001.
 
 
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           1            Before showing you the staff
 
           2       recommendation on the Gulf proposals, I'd like
 
           3       to review for you a range of options we
 
           4       received during the comment period.  The
 
           5       original proposal created a north and south
 
           6       zone inside of five nautical miles.  There was
 
           7       a two-net restriction in the north and a
 
           8       complete closure in the south.  We received two
 
           9       proposals from the Vietnamese-American
 
          10       Shrimper's Association.  The first suggested a
 
          11       total closure year around within one nautical
 
          12       mile with a stipulation that none of the other
 
          13       bay or gulf proposals be adopted.  Their second
 
          14       proposal was to apply the two-net restriction
 
          15       inside of two nautical miles coastwide year
 
          16       around with the previously noted stipulations.
 
          17       The Texas Shrimp Association offered a proposal
 
          18       that prohibited all shrimping inside of seven
 
          19       fathoms from December to July.  This depth is
 
          20       about a mile and a half off of South Padre
 
          21       Island, but it stretches out to over nine miles
 
          22       off of the Galveston area.
 
          23            They did support nearly all of the
 
          24       original bay proposals, restrictions and, in
 
          25       fact, they suggested a dead bait quota.
 
 
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           1            Sierra Club and Environmental Defense
 
           2       recommended the five-nautical-mile closure be
 
           3       year around along the whole coast.
 
           4            And two other proposals made included a
 
           5       two-net restriction out to nine nautical miles
 
           6       year around and a total shrimping prohibition
 
           7       out to nine nautical miles year around.
 
           8            And seeking to balance this wide range of
 
           9       stakeholder interest while still achieving our
 
          10       principal management goals, staff offers the
 
          11       following recommendation:
 
          12            The current year around nighttime closure
 
          13       inside of seven fathoms would be changed to
 
          14       five nautical miles.  Inside of three nautical
 
          15       miles coastwide the two-net restriction would
 
          16       apply year around.  There would be one
 
          17       exception to this standardized rule:  In the
 
          18       South Zone from December 1st to July 15th or
 
          19       the opening of the summer gulf season,
 
          20       shrimping would be prohibited inside of five
 
          21       nautical miles.  Because shrimping is also
 
          22       closed or would already be closed from
 
          23       December 1st to February 15th and from May 15th
 
          24       to about July 15th, this exception essentially
 
          25       adds only three additional months of closure
 
 
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           1       from mid-May -- from mid-February to mid-May.
 
           2            We would recommend that the two-net rule
 
           3       take effect next summer when the gulf season
 
           4       opens and that the other closures would be
 
           5       effective by this December.
 
           6            Final staff recommendation would be the
 
           7       adoption of the fee increases as originally
 
           8       proposed.  This proposal package, Mr. Chairman,
 
           9       even though it is revised from the original,
 
          10       still offers substantial conservation benefits,
 
          11       and I'd -- I'd had like to highlight a few of
 
          12       those.
 
          13            In combination with the previously adopted
 
          14       $3 fee increase in the salt water stamp, there
 
          15       will a $10 -- There will basically be
 
          16       $10 million available over the next five years
 
          17       to accelerate the voluntary license buyback.
 
          18            If we can achieve our goal and return
 
          19       effort levels to those of the mid '70s, the
 
          20       shrimp fishery can expect substantial increases
 
          21       in their catch per unit effort.  Well over
 
          22       1 million acres of marsh, bay, and gulf bottom
 
          23       habitat will receive additional protection
 
          24       from trawling each year with these revised
 
          25       proposals.
 
 
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           1            Bycatch reduction will be substantial.  A
 
           2       very conservative estimate of 10 million pounds
 
           3       of all marine species would be saved.  In the
 
           4       bays alone, that means millions of blue crabs,
 
           5       Atlantic croaker, sand sea trout.  I would note
 
           6       that the lower number on the -- on the flounder
 
           7       actually reflects the stressed condition of our
 
           8       flounder stocks, but 200,000 fish saved is
 
           9       about equivalent to half of the current
 
          10       commercial recreational and -- and commercial
 
          11       and recreational landings combined each year,
 
          12       so it's a substantial number of fish.  We would
 
          13       also propose that the Department consider
 
          14       purchasing the initial set of BRDs for the
 
          15       fleet.
 
          16            These rules will also have, in fact,
 
          17       benefits for the shrimp fishery by reducing
 
          18       growth overfishing through the deferred harvest
 
          19       of small shrimp and by increased spawning.
 
          20            In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, as beneficial
 
          21       as these rule changes can be, they still not --
 
          22       will not have created an ideal shrimp fishery,
 
          23       but it's important to give them a chance to
 
          24       work and we would like to -- to basically
 
          25       monitor their impacts for at least five years
 
 
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           1       while providing you some regular status
 
           2       reports.  We would also like to create better
 
           3       stakeholder dialogue in hopes that
 
           4       co-management with the industry can -- can come
 
           5       closer to reality.  We also think it's
 
           6       important that
 
           7       the -- that the industry begin talking about
 
           8       limited entry in the gulf fleet as a way of
 
           9       maximizing benefits to those shrimpers, and at
 
          10       the same time, we want to look to get a better
 
          11       scientific handle on the biodiversity that
 
          12       we -- we know we have in our -- our near shore
 
          13       gulf waters.
 
          14            With that, Mr. Chairman, staff recommends
 
          15       the following motion for referral to the full
 
          16       commission.  I'd be happy to answer any
 
          17       questions.
 
          18                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Questions at this
 
          19       time?
 
          20                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  How -- How soon
 
          21       would you expect measurable results to be
 
          22       definable if the -- as these rules take
 
          23       effect?
 
          24                 MR. OSBURN:  Well, you have to deal
 
          25       with the variation that -- that Mother Nature
 
 
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           1       throws at you every year.  That's partly why we
 
           2       recommended five years so that I wouldn't be
 
           3       showing you a year-to-year variation.  I'd
 
           4       certainly want to look at it every year, but we
 
           5       think with bycatch that it can be -- you can
 
           6       see that very quickly.  We would like to think
 
           7       that we could measure that in our -- our bag
 
           8       seines on the -- some of these juvenile
 
           9       species.
 
          10                 DR. MCKINNEY:  Commissioner, that's
 
          11       one of the reasons that -- that we would -- I
 
          12       recommended to you that we use some of out
 
          13       buyback -- back funds initially to get those
 
          14       BRDs out there right away so we can see some of
 
          15       those benefits directly.  I think that's --
 
          16       That would be the first area we could see some
 
          17       positive benefits.  Commissioner, in one -- You
 
          18       had asked the question about public comments so
 
          19       forth -- and Paul Hammerschmidt tried to put
 
          20       some of that information together and this --
 
          21       and if I'm -- Paul, if I'm mis -- misquoting
 
          22       this, please correct me, but most of the public
 
          23       input from the industry came during those
 
          24       public hearings and most of that was specific
 
          25       to different issue, but those -- those who
 
 
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           1       spoke on the rules package as a whole, and we
 
           2       can't really break this down between industry
 
           3       and others, but there were 23 comments in favor
 
           4       of all the rules and 33 opposed to all the
 
           5       rules.  That's -- That's the best we can break
 
           6       down from that that gives you some indications.
 
           7                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  From the public
 
           8       comments.
 
           9                 DR. MCKINNEY:  Public comments at
 
          10       those hearings.
 
          11                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Ms. Dinkins.
 
          12                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Yes.
 
          13       Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  I would appreciate
 
          14       your talking about the authority the Commission
 
          15       has for adopting these proposals, and
 
          16       specifically, I would like to know whether we
 
          17       have a basis for regulation on -- for economic
 
          18       reasons.
 
          19                 MR. OSBURN:  Actually, the -- these
 
          20       rules are promulgated under seven different
 
          21       chapters of the Parks and Wildlife Code.
 
          22       Chapter 47 deals with the commercial fees,
 
          23       which you can regulate.  Chapter 61 is the
 
          24       management of all wildlife resources, 66 is
 
          25       finfish management, 67 is the nongame fish and
 
 
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           1       wildlife species, 68 is an endangered and
 
           2       threatened species, Chapter 77 speaks
 
           3       specifically to shrimp, and Chapter 78 is -- is
 
           4       crabs.
 
           5       Chapter 77, in particular, tells us that you
 
           6       can regulate the catching, possession,
 
           7       purchase, and sale of -- of shrimp after
 
           8       adoption of the FMP, the Fishery Management
 
           9       Plan, which was done in 1989.
 
          10            Economics is -- is not to be the sole
 
          11       reason for making rules, but economics was
 
          12       pointed out very clearly in the statute and in
 
          13       the FMP as important to the management balance
 
          14       and that is why optimal yield was given by the
 
          15       legislature to the Department as their goal
 
          16       rather than maximum sustainable yield, which
 
          17       would have been strictly biological.  So
 
          18       optimum yield specifically tells us to deal
 
          19       with -- with economics as -- as part of our
 
          20       formula.
 
          21                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Could you
 
          22       summarize what you see as the most important
 
          23       biological reasons for recommending these
 
          24       proposals?
 
          25                 MR. OSBURN:  Yes, ma'am.  It -- It
 
 
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           1       is -- It is for the -- the long-term risk
 
           2       management.  We do have good years and bad
 
           3       years environmentally, but we have a fleet that
 
           4       is, particularly in the Gulf, without limited
 
           5       entry, is increasing its capacity.  It's
 
           6       increasing the size of the boats, the numbers
 
           7       of nets, and targeting populations of shrimp
 
           8       that were not targeted historically, and with
 
           9       that uncertainty and those populations, there
 
          10       is a risk of -- of depletion that I think is
 
          11       the most important thing that we ought to deal
 
          12       with is the depletion of the shrimp;
 
          13       secondarily, the bycatch and overall
 
          14       biodiversity in our bays that we have.
 
          15       Frankly, most of us don't know what kind of
 
          16       biodiversity we can have in the bays because we
 
          17       have lived with so many decades of -- of -- of
 
          18       heavy fishing pressure that we don't have the
 
          19       same knowledge of an unfished state, so
 
          20       reducing that bycatch in the bays and in the
 
          21       Gulf will give us an opportunity to -- to
 
          22       return to levels, I think, of productivity for
 
          23       other fisheries that will benefit those other
 
          24       fisheries, recreational, commercial alike.
 
          25                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  And you would
 
 
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           1       see the authority for addressing the bycatch
 
           2       issue to be contained in what the legislature
 
           3       has given the Commission within the chapters
 
           4       that you cited earlier?
 
           5                 MR. OSBURN:  Yes, ma'am.  That's why
 
           6       we -- we listed -- That's why we listed all of
 
           7       those chapters, crabs, finfish as well as
 
           8       shrimp and the other species, so it's a package
 
           9       when -- when -- when the -- when the fishery
 
          10       operates out there, they don't just take
 
          11       shrimp, and so we have to manage for everything
 
          12       that they are harvesting.
 
          13                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Do you see
 
          14       these proposals being consistent with the
 
          15       Shrimp fishery management Plan?
 
          16                 MR. OSBURN:  Absolutely.  That is
 
          17       the -- the guideline that we took them from.
 
          18       That's why we simplified them to time and area
 
          19       closures in many cases, but the Shrimp Fishery
 
          20       Management Plan spoke to -- to the goals of
 
          21       every one that -- of these proposals is trying
 
          22       to achieve.
 
          23                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  In talking in
 
          24       terms of a five-year study, are you implying
 
          25       that picking that date that we would not
 
 
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           1       address this for another five years or is there
 
           2       room in that that if the study indicates that
 
           3       there is some trend of a need-to-need action
 
           4       that you might yet come back within five years
 
           5       to the Commission?
 
           6                 MR. OSBURN:  The -- Our staff
 
           7       certainly would -- cannot take away your
 
           8       authority to deal issues on an emergency basis
 
           9       or even with new information.  What we will --
 
          10       what I would like to see is a vision of
 
          11       co-management is that the industry when we work
 
          12       with them actually comes forward with
 
          13       recommendations that have a conservation value,
 
          14       but also a benefit for their fishery and the
 
          15       initiative in the next five years for new rules
 
          16       would come from the industry and that we would
 
          17       facilitate that process.  This was our
 
          18       initiative.  We spent two years on it.  We
 
          19       believe that -- that it is good overall for the
 
          20       long-term fishery, but it was obviously a
 
          21       process that -- that once it's gone through
 
          22       needs to be monitored and studied for -- for a
 
          23       while and it's a very large comprehensive
 
          24       package.  It's complex and -- and confusing,
 
          25       and -- but it's a very big fishery and it --
 
 
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           1       and it took that to do it, a holistic view on
 
           2       this, and -- and we certainly are -- are ready
 
           3       to -- to sit back and look at it a little
 
           4       closer or we've been looking at it close, but
 
           5       we're -- we're ready to monitor the impacts of
 
           6       what we've done.
 
           7                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Just two more
 
           8       quick things:  Do you know what the cost of the
 
           9       BRDs will be?
 
          10                 MR. OSBURN:  Our best estimate is for
 
          11       the device itself is somewhere between $40 and
 
          12       $50.
 
          13                 DR. MCKINNEY:  Unless we can buy them
 
          14       in bulk is we get to buy larger.
 
          15                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  About how many
 
          16       would you be purchasing?
 
          17                 MR. OSBURN:  Three to 4,000.
 
          18                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Thank you.  My
 
          19       other -- My only other item was could we have a
 
          20       copy of the presentation that Dr. Gracia gave
 
          21       us?
 
          22                 MR. MCKINNEY:  Absolutely.
 
          23                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Especially the
 
          24       time lines.
 
          25                 MR. MCKINNEY:  Absolutely.
 
 
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           1                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Thank you,
 
           2       Mr. Chairman.
 
           3                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.
 
           4                 COMMISSIONER WATSON:  Well, I'd just
 
           5       like to, you know, say how much I appreciate,
 
           6       and I think the whole Commission does, all the
 
           7       effort that -- that Hal and Larry put into
 
           8       this.  You know, I made a comment that I think
 
           9       when Hal started this process, he was
 
          10       six-foot-four and, you know, he's -- he's --
 
          11       he's really gotten a lot of abuse and, you
 
          12       know, I really appreciate that because, you
 
          13       know, that's something we can't put in your
 
          14       paycheck, but, you know, I think that you've
 
          15       done a great job on continuing to keep us
 
          16       focused on the fact that, you know, this is a
 
          17       resource that residents of Texas, this is not
 
          18       an asset of the shrimping industry, and you
 
          19       know, what we need to do is to maintain the
 
          20       integrity of this fishery for all the residents
 
          21       of Texas.
 
          22                 MR. MCKINNEY:  Thank you,
 
          23       Commissioner.  I would -- I would add to that,
 
          24       too, I've appreciated -- we -- certainly the
 
          25       staff has appreciated the Commission's
 
 
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           1       attention to this and those of you who could
 
           2       participate and come to these hearings, we
 
           3       greatly appreciate it and I would be remiss if
 
           4       I didn't point out Commissioner Watson.  We
 
           5       drug him all over the state and all times and
 
           6       hours of night and I think that -- that has
 
           7       been very valuable for us and supportive and
 
           8       hopefully it has been for you.
 
           9                 COMMISSIONER HENRY:  May I ask just a
 
          10       general question?  Particularly from the
 
          11       hearings, were you able to clear any other
 
          12       deficiencies that may have existed of
 
          13       contradictions in terms of correspondence that
 
          14       we have received either directly or through the
 
          15       hearings with regard to information that was
 
          16       presented?
 
          17                 MR. MCKINNEY:  Well, I hope so.  In
 
          18       that -- that document that's in your packet
 
          19       talking about criticisms, we -- those were some
 
          20       that had consistently come up with either
 
          21       bycatch or agreement with NMFS.  Hopefully
 
          22       today we've -- we've addressed and adequate --
 
          23       addressed adequately the issue at National
 
          24       Marine Fishery Service and some of the others.
 
          25       Right.  Yes, I think we did, and we learned a
 
 
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           1       lot.  In the proposal that's before you from --
 
           2       that Hal and the staff has put together now
 
           3       reflects -- reflects that input that occurred
 
           4       at those times and so hopefully it does do
 
           5       that.
 
           6                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  I've been, and
 
           7       I think the whole Commission's been quite
 
           8       concerned about the impression that we've
 
           9       gotten that the people in the shrimping
 
          10       industry, at least a goodly number of them,
 
          11       have come to question the -- the sincerity of
 
          12       our approach or the Department's approach, the
 
          13       fairness, the hidden agendas and so on, and I
 
          14       think one of the maybe good things that's come
 
          15       out of this so far, at least, is that staff and
 
          16       the Commission have, I think, clearly
 
          17       demonstrated a strong effort to dispel that
 
          18       concern, but obviously it's still present, and
 
          19       so I think it's extremely important that for
 
          20       the success of this whole effort and for what
 
          21       you and Mr. Osburn has stated as his goal to
 
          22       have subsequent activity be a team effort, if
 
          23       that's going to occur, we're going to have to
 
          24       do more to establish a feeling of trust again
 
          25       between the industry and the Department that
 
 
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           1       isn't there today.
 
           2            And to the extent that what we say has any
 
           3       bearing on that, I think all of us would --
 
           4       would say immediately that we do not have a
 
           5       hidden agenda, that our concern is about the --
 
           6       the assets, as Commissioner Watson has said,
 
           7       that belong to the state as a whole, but we
 
           8       certainly recognize that each part of that --
 
           9       of the stakeholders has -- has an equal right
 
          10       to their part of it, and -- and there's no
 
          11       intent to do harm to the shrimping industry
 
          12       itself.  In fact, what we're trying to do, if
 
          13       we do it correctly, will end up benefiting the
 
          14       commercial industry.  So if they don't believe
 
          15       that, if there's a complete lack of trust, then
 
          16       it's going to be very difficult to reach the --
 
          17       the goals that we're all seeking.
 
          18                 DR. MCKINNEY:  Point well taken and
 
          19       heard, sir.  Appreciate it.
 
          20                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  If there will not any
 
          21       other questions of comments at this time, we do
 
          22       have eight individuals that we've invited to
 
          23       give comments representing some of the
 
          24       stakeholders in this issue.  Obviously,
 
          25       we're, in our public hearing this afternoon,
 
 
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           1       going to have opportunity to hear from -- from
 
           2       far larger numbers of people with interests in
 
           3       the shrimping issue as well as -- as other
 
           4       issues before the Department.
 
           5            Given the -- the fact that our public
 
           6       hearing is set to start at -- at one o'clock
 
           7       and between now and then the Commission's
 
           8       agenda includes a finance meeting as well as an
 
           9       executive session, I'm going to ask those that
 
          10       we've invited to -- to speak on the panel to
 
          11       please keep your comments as succinct as
 
          12       possible.  We're not going to have the traffic
 
          13       light system running formally, but if you could
 
          14       try to limit yourself to three minutes or so.
 
          15       That would allow us to get through this section
 
          16       in a -- in a half hour of time and not
 
          17       inconvenience those people who are planning to
 
          18       show up here at one o'clock for the beginning
 
          19       of a public meeting by setting our entire
 
          20       schedule back too far.
 
          21            That said, I'm going to ask two of you
 
          22       to -- to come at a time simply because we have
 
          23       two chairs and two microphones and we can kind
 
          24       of switch off as we go and be as expedient as
 
          25       possible, and this is not any effort to -- to
 
 
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           1       create any alliances or anything here.  I'm
 
           2       simply going to call you two at a time in the
 
           3       order that -- that your names are on the sheet
 
           4       in front of me, so it's completely random, but
 
           5       if Julius Collins representing the Texas Shrimp
 
           6       Association and Richard Moore from PISCES could
 
           7       please come forward and -- and give us what
 
           8       comments that -- that you have at an expedient
 
           9       manner, and, of course, obviously you'd be
 
          10       welcome to speak this afternoon and tomorrow on
 
          11       this -- this issue as -- as public comment
 
          12       allows.
 
          13            You have the floor.
 
          14                 MR. COLLINS:  Thank you, very much,
 
          15       Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, I'm
 
          16       Julius Collins, president of the Texas Shrimp
 
          17       Association and I'm an owner of offshore gulf
 
          18       trawlers.  My family has been in the shrimp
 
          19       harvesting business for over 100 years, so I'm
 
          20       not new at the game.  My statement today is to
 
          21       advise that the Texas Shrimp Association
 
          22       supports status quo, no shrimp to be taken by
 
          23       the Regulation Committee on the proposed shrimp
 
          24       regulation.  First, my reason for status quo
 
          25       there are too many discrepancies between the
 
 
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           1       Department's data, National Marine Fishery's
 
           2       data and the shrimp fishery data that needs to
 
           3       be clarified.  We see no scientific basis to
 
           4       conclude that the Texas shrimp fishery will
 
           5       collapse.  Second, TSA testified before the
 
           6       Senate Natural Resource Committee and outlined
 
           7       the misrepresentation of the Department of the
 
           8       data and the graph used to justify the
 
           9       decision.  We submitted a copy for the record.
 
          10       Other fisheries' biologists have presented
 
          11       testimony at public hearings references and
 
          12       discrepancies and misrepresentation of the data
 
          13       by the Department.
 
          14            Third, we have experienced changing after
 
          15       change, in addition, deletions and
 
          16       modifications to the proposal.  We have
 
          17       prepared and presented testimony explanation
 
          18       and we made recommendation.  I don't know if
 
          19       the recommendations were exactly what TSA has
 
          20       done, I don't believe it was, but we did make
 
          21       recommendation.  And I'm not -- I'm here today
 
          22       again to plead and address even more minutes
 
          23       changed of the proposal.
 
          24            I want to bring to your attention that the
 
          25       current shrimp data selected by the lead agent,
 
 
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           1       NMFS, which you saw two members here and they
 
           2       presented real well, brown shrimp remains the
 
           3       dominant species throughout the years 1960
 
           4       through now.  Overall, catch per unit of
 
           5       effort, CPUE that he talked about for the
 
           6       shrimp had declined since 1960; however, the
 
           7       last ten years it is coming back and has
 
           8       increased.
 
           9            Overall fishing effort for brown shrimp
 
          10       has declined or -- by 35 percent in the Gulf.
 
          11       Fishing effort has declined by 35 percent.
 
          12       Recruitment levels for 1998 and 1999 were the
 
          13       highest since 1991.  Parent stock levels for
 
          14       brown shrimp were up in 1999 over 300 million.
 
          15       That's the parent stock.  The overfishing
 
          16       transfer is only 125 million.
 
          17            Fishing effort for white shrimp has also
 
          18       declined.  Parent stock for that species is
 
          19       around 800 mill -- million.  The level above --
 
          20       in the rare overfishing traphold is only
 
          21       330 million.
 
          22            Growth overfishing occurs throughout the
 
          23       five -- five Gulf states and Mexico, not just
 
          24       Texas.  There has been accepted practice to
 
          25       meet consumption further for a
 
 
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           1       supply-and-demand market for all-sized
 
           2       category.
 
           3            Let me go down and we'll skip a few, so I
 
           4       can hurry up with this.  The Department's
 
           5       report failed to note that in the event or an
 
           6       indication of a species collapse, there was
 
           7       safeguards already placed on the Gulf of Mexico
 
           8       Fishery's Management Council, which -- a plan
 
           9       which Dr. Zimmerman related to you, and this
 
          10       you can have the complete data on this.
 
          11            Sea turtles.  The environmentalists refuse
 
          12       to accept that the shrimp fishery has met the
 
          13       mandate for sea turtle devices, turtle excluder
 
          14       device, on the Endangered Spec Act -- Species
 
          15       Act, and the fisheries operate on the Section 7
 
          16       consolation with the biology group opinion that
 
          17       allows an incidental take.
 
          18            More turtles are killed by cold weather
 
          19       speedboat props, shark bites, dredging,
 
          20       recreational and commercial hook and line,
 
          21       entangle of monofilament lines and even gill
 
          22       nets than there are with shrimp trawls now.
 
          23            There should be no recommendation for the
 
          24       Department to close area for shrimp in Texas
 
          25       territory or sea to protect sea turtles.  If
 
 
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           1       that be the case, then the Parks and Wildlife
 
           2       Department should put that in a no-take zone
 
           3       where nobody could take not only the shrimp
 
           4       boats should be affected, everybody that's
 
           5       detrimental to the sea turtle should be
 
           6       affected, also.
 
           7            We believe the Department should be
 
           8       advising committee that sea turtle population
 
           9       are healthy and recovering.  Rancho Nuevo in
 
          10       Mexico, over 6,000 nests this year compared to
 
          11       3,000 last year.  That's 100 percent increase.
 
          12            The general public seems never to get the
 
          13       message that no matter what precautions are
 
          14       taken, there will be sea turtles spawning --
 
          15       nesting and stranding that will occur
 
          16       throughout the United States' gulf -- States'
 
          17       coastal states.
 
          18            In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, this proposed
 
          19       shrimp regulation has created a barrage of
 
          20       e-mail, as you've seen so many people against,
 
          21       and Internet and faxed comments from people
 
          22       throughout the nation that have no concept of
 
          23       its contents, but simply to show numbers in
 
          24       support or opposition to apply peer pressure
 
          25       on -- for personal agenda gains.  The Gulf
 
 
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           1       Council and National Marine Fishery Service
 
           2       adopted a policy:  Written comments and
 
           3       proposals must be mailed to the designated
 
           4       agency proposing the rules.  Comments may also
 
           5       be submitted via fax with the original
 
           6       immediately followed by mail.  Comments will
 
           7       not be accepted if submitted by e-mail or
 
           8       Internet.  We recommend the Department and
 
           9       Commission honor this policy and remove all
 
          10       e-mails, Internets, and faxes that do not have
 
          11       supporting original by mail as invalid comments
 
          12       on these proposed shrimp regulations.
 
          13            And that concludes my presentation.  I'll
 
          14       try to answer questions if you-all have.
 
          15                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Mr. Collins, I
 
          16       appreciate your efforts to -- to be a speed
 
          17       speaker.
 
          18                 MR. COLLINS:  I'm not -- I'm not used
 
          19       to being a speed speaker.  In fact, I -- I'm
 
          20       very slow.
 
          21                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  I was very -- I think
 
          22       we're all able to -- to, as you were speaking,
 
          23       read over some of the parts that you -- that
 
          24       you omitted from your -- your verbal
 
          25       presentation and your -- your handout and I
 
 
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           1       appreciate that.
 
           2            Are there any direct questions for
 
           3       Mr. Collins prior to hearing Mr. Moore's
 
           4       comments?
 
           5            Thank you very much, sir.
 
           6                 MR. COLLINS:  Thank you very much.
 
           7                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  I appreciate you
 
           8       coming.
 
           9                 MR. COLLINS:  You want me to stay
 
          10       with you and fight?  No.
 
          11                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  No.  Actually, I'm
 
          12       going to ask you to give your chair up for
 
          13       Jimmy Evans who can come and -- and --
 
          14                 MR. COLLINS:  All right.
 
          15                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  -- get himself
 
          16       situated while we hear from Mr. Moore.
 
          17            The floor is yours, Mr. Moore.
 
          18                 MR. MOORE:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
 
          19       My name is Richard Moore and I'm representing
 
          20       mostly a bay inshore fishery.  First of all,
 
          21       I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the
 
          22       Parks and Wildlife for helping us in what we
 
          23       had a real crisis.  Since our season opened
 
          24       August the 15th, Galveston Bay has been covered
 
          25       up with the bryzoan sea grass.  Through the
 
 
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           1       efforts of the fishermen and Parks and
 
           2       Wildlife, we petitioned the National Marine
 
           3       Fisheries to give us an exemption from the
 
           4       TEDs, and even the director of law enforcement
 
           5       called me and says he'd never seen the federal
 
           6       government move so fast.  So it was with the
 
           7       efforts of Parks and Wildlife and others, and
 
           8       we want to take this time to thank them because
 
           9       it does mean an awful lot to the fishermen of
 
          10       Galveston Bay.
 
          11            Now, to the business at hand.  We've sat
 
          12       here around we've heard, Mr. Osburn, Mr. Nance,
 
          13       the scientists that -- that take care of these
 
          14       fisheries.  What I would like to have done is
 
          15       started this back 18 months ago whenever we
 
          16       could have had talks with these agencies, the
 
          17       fishermen.  We have a thing in place right now
 
          18       called the Shrimp Advisory Committee that was
 
          19       not utilized and we don't understand why.  All
 
          20       this was done and the fishermen knew absolutely
 
          21       nothing about it.  That's where we're talking
 
          22       about trust comes in.  The Shrimp Advisory
 
          23       Committee, and there's also a review board
 
          24       that's been elected by the peers is in
 
          25       operation and works with Parks and Wildlife,
 
 
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           1       but they saw fit to ignore us and the Shrimp
 
           2       Advisory Plan Committee.  They went to the
 
           3       environmental groups.  They knew -- They knew
 
           4       more about our business than we did, and I
 
           5       don't think that's right, and that's where
 
           6       trust comes in.
 
           7            The modification of the plan, the original
 
           8       plans is something that can be dealt with and
 
           9       it needs to be dealt with.  We do not have a
 
          10       biological problem in our shrimp -- in our
 
          11       shrimp fishery.  Are we headed that way?  I
 
          12       don't know.
 
          13            You know, someone said if the first time
 
          14       man went back and got the second shrimp because
 
          15       he liked to eat it we were headed toward
 
          16       overfishing.  You walk out that door and you
 
          17       take two steps to the north, you're headed to
 
          18       the North Pole.  It don't mean you're going to
 
          19       get there.  I don't know.
 
          20            I'm a fisherman.  Sometimes I don't even
 
          21       know what it takes to catch them.  You try, but
 
          22       I've seen if you look on your back pages of
 
          23       that little thing I just gave you, from 1960 to
 
          24       1999, nobody knows what they do, because if
 
          25       you'll at the predictions and the catch rate,
 
 
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           1       none of it's ever the same.  You go from good
 
           2       years to bad years.  I don't care who manages
 
           3       this resource.  Unless you simply annihilate
 
           4       it, the habitat, and pollute it, I don't know
 
           5       what you'll do with it.
 
           6            I'm asking this Commission to be very
 
           7       careful whenever you vote to be sure you know
 
           8       all the facts, know these definitions, growth
 
           9       overfishing, recruitment overfishing,
 
          10       allocation, because that's where this is
 
          11       boiling down to is allocation.  The mass is
 
          12       there, the product is there, we have no
 
          13       problem.  A lot of the time we have problem
 
          14       finding it because those little devils just
 
          15       disappear.  There's nothing we can do about
 
          16       that.  We have had a drought problem.  We
 
          17       have -- I have been fishing for over 40 years
 
          18       and it's nothing that I hadn't seen before, and
 
          19       you know how to deal with that.
 
          20            My question to you is be very careful
 
          21       because you're dealing with a lot of people's
 
          22       lives.  This is an allocation problem.  It
 
          23       always has been.  So when I -- Whenever you
 
          24       vote, I ask you to be informed and to vote your
 
          25       conscience.
 
 
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           1            Thank you.
 
           2                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Questions for
 
           3       Mr. Moore?
 
           4                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Thank you,
 
           5       Mr. Chairman.  Exactly what do you think the
 
           6       impact of the current proposal will be on the
 
           7       shrimp fishery?
 
           8                 MR. MOORE:  Just a few quick facts.
 
           9       With the closure of water, if passed,
 
          10       57 percent of Texas bays will be off limits to
 
          11       bay shrimp licensed holders.  That's 57 percent
 
          12       of the water that we have to work in will no
 
          13       longer be available to bay licensed holders.
 
          14       Bait license holders, yes, but not bay license
 
          15       holders.  You know, it -- it kind of makes you
 
          16       nervous whenever you look at these -- some of
 
          17       these proposals and you wonder where they come
 
          18       from.
 
          19            And like I said, I've been shrimping for
 
          20       over 40 years and to come from where I came
 
          21       from where everything was open, nothing was
 
          22       sacred, 24-hour shrimping, we went through a
 
          23       time frame in -- in the '80s with the influx of
 
          24       the Asian community, our inshore fishery went
 
          25       up to over 5,000 boats.  That's way too many.
 
 
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           1       Five-thousand-two-hundred-and-something
 
           2       licenses were issued in 1981 through 1984.
 
           3       That's too many.  Nobody can sustain that.
 
           4            Attrition took over and the license
 
           5       started coming down.  In 1995, we developed
 
           6       limited entry.  Limited entry was going to be
 
           7       the panacea.  We get that, boy, and we've got
 
           8       it, no more problems.  We've got that and it's
 
           9       working.  We have reduced -- We have reduced
 
          10       shrimping effort in our bays by 74.7 percent
 
          11       since 1984.  Seventy -- 74.7 percent.
 
          12                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Mr. Moore,
 
          13       excuse me.  My question was a direct one.
 
          14                 MR. MOORE:  I'm sorry.
 
          15                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  What do you
 
          16       see the economic impact or other impact --
 
          17                 MR. MOORE:  Economic impact?
 
          18                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Yes.  I want
 
          19       to know what the actual impact is.  I
 
          20       appreciate the statistics --
 
          21                 MR. MOORE:  Okay.
 
          22                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  -- but I want
 
          23       to know the actual impact you anticipate.
 
          24                 MR. MOORE:  Well, with less -- With
 
          25       less area to work, less time to work, we'll
 
 
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           1       have less money.
 
           2                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Do you
 
           3       disagree then with the -- the statement that I
 
           4       understood Dr. Zimmerman to make about there
 
           5       would be -- with less effort that you would
 
           6       still have a good amount of catch?  I forget
 
           7       the exact statement, but I'm sure that you
 
           8       probably heard it, also.
 
           9                 MR. MOORE:  See, in our bay systems,
 
          10       we are -- we are so regulated already, we --
 
          11       we -- we have so much limited time to work,
 
          12       four months out of the year we can only -- I
 
          13       think it's four -- you can only work till
 
          14       two o'clock.  Our main season, which they want
 
          15       to pull 15 days away from it, December -- end
 
          16       of the season at December the 1st, we only have
 
          17       four months in our main season, August 15th to
 
          18       December the 15th.  Now we're going to lose
 
          19       15 days of that.  It's economics.
 
          20            If -- If the fishermen theirselves could
 
          21       see in the long run, in the long term, a
 
          22       benefit of this, but we don't see one.  Our
 
          23       numbers are steady going down.  We have less
 
          24       than 1400 boats in the fishery today in the
 
          25       inshore fishery, and that's a long way from
 
 
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           1       coming from 5,000.  And limited entry is alive
 
           2       and doing well.  Now, it may not be as fast as
 
           3       some people would like it to be, and -- and I'm
 
           4       sure it's money.  We did not like -- We did not
 
           5       see CCA for $3 on their stamps and that's --
 
           6       that's a -- That's a bad mistake anyway because
 
           7       they've already deleted their main source,
 
           8       which is a combo license and they don't pay the
 
           9       $3.  You know, we're getting a bad rap on that,
 
          10       I feel.
 
          11            Closures, any closure is not a way to
 
          12       manage a resource.  I would like to sit down
 
          13       and see if there's something else couldn't be
 
          14       done.  We looked at mesh size.  We looked at
 
          15       other things.  We've even agreed, but they've
 
          16       been deleted.  I wish that these -- these
 
          17       proposals could have been done a long time ago
 
          18       before -- and why we have a cutoff date of this
 
          19       time when we have to do it right now, right
 
          20       now.  We have to -- You-all have to make this
 
          21       decision.
 
          22            And I'm confused about that because I
 
          23       don't know because March 22nd we didn't have
 
          24       any proposals.
 
          25            And to clarify one other fact, if I may,
 
 
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           1       that the conflict between National Marine
 
           2       Fisheries and Parks and Wildlife, that -- that
 
           3       was first brought out and that needs to be
 
           4       clarified.  There's no -- There's no conflict
 
           5       in the data.  The data's the same.  The
 
           6       conflict is the interpretation of the data, and
 
           7       when we looked at the newspapers and all we
 
           8       could read was our industry is about to
 
           9       collapse, the director of fisheries even stated
 
          10       in a Senate Natural Resource Committee hearing,
 
          11       We will catch the last shrimp.  That statement
 
          12       was made.
 
          13            Now, I don't know why anybody would make
 
          14       that statement because who could afford to go
 
          15       catch the last shrimp.  It costs a lot of money
 
          16       to run those boats.  I'm sorry.  I got --
 
          17                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Thank you,
 
          18       Mr. Moore.
 
          19                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you,
 
          20       Mr. Moore.
 
          21                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Thank you,
 
          22       Mr. Chairman.
 
          23                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Brian Sybert, if
 
          24       you'd come up and be prepared to speak while we
 
          25       hear from Mr. Evans.
 
 
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           1                 MR. EVANS:  Yes, sir.  Thank you for
 
           2       having me.  Having been in the business for
 
           3       many, many years I also know a little bit about
 
           4       the shrimping industry.  I also have been on
 
           5       the Advisory Committee for many years, and I
 
           6       don't know how to say this, but I was a little
 
           7       embarrassed to see our group vote completely
 
           8       against the original proposals with me being
 
           9       the exception, and then after we spend our time
 
          10       in a couple more of these meetings, a bunch of
 
          11       the proposals that you see from the gulf
 
          12       industry right on that screen a few minutes ago
 
          13       were in those original proposals.  The original
 
          14       set of proposals were outstanding in my
 
          15       opinion.  I've actually said a couple of times
 
          16       that I think that that's where we out to be.  I
 
          17       don't particularly agree with the final rules
 
          18       here.  I would rather us have the original set
 
          19       of proposals.
 
          20            The -- The original set of proposals were
 
          21       pretty well defined.  I wasn't satisfied with
 
          22       those because I've always said ever since I've
 
          23       been on this committee that the bait license
 
          24       that was put in effective about 1959 was for
 
          25       only to provide bait for the fishing public of
 
 
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           1       Texas, and I've said for many years now that I
 
           2       think that the bait license is still being very
 
           3       muchly abused.  Having said that, I'll go on.
 
           4            The shrimp season in the Gulf of Mexico
 
           5       has -- looks like it's very, very good.  I have
 
           6       an opinion of that for a reason:  I actually
 
           7       was in my car before thinking about any of
 
           8       this.  This year I picked up the phones, we had
 
           9       tremendous floods before the bay season
 
          10       opened.  All of the shrimp in my opinion got
 
          11       forced to the Gulf of Mexico.  We're having an
 
          12       outstanding year in the Gulf of Mexico.  I
 
          13       believe the floods pushed those shrimp there.
 
          14            We're having a decline in the bay.  There
 
          15       again, this is my opinion, okay, but we do have
 
          16       an outstanding season in the Gulf of Mexico.
 
          17       That could be an explanation, but it also backs
 
          18       up the fact that if it is true, all the more
 
          19       reason that we have to not overfish in the bay
 
          20       so we have that escapement to the Gulf to
 
          21       produce a viable fishery.  I believe that.
 
          22            The -- The proposal to close the lower
 
          23       gulf for an environmental turtle reason I
 
          24       thought was outstanding.  I had asked the
 
          25       people on a scale of one to ten how significant
 
 
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           1       was this five-mile closure to the protection of
 
           2       the turtle and the answer was nine.  That's
 
           3       pretty significant.  If we don't do
 
           4       something -- We have turtle excluder devices
 
           5       that all of the shrimp industry said we'd never
 
           6       have, but we have them.
 
           7            Maybe if we don't do something in our own
 
           8       state, which we should manage ourself, the
 
           9       federal government will come back and try to do
 
          10       more that really will be a lot more detrimental
 
          11       to our fishery.
 
          12            I would much rather have the five-mile
 
          13       closure and get a rating from the people on the
 
          14       other side, so to speak, of a nine on a scale
 
          15       of one to ten opposed to coming back later and
 
          16       the federal government try to close it for
 
          17       15 miles.
 
          18            So I support the five-mile closure on the
 
          19       lower gulf, which was in the original
 
          20       proposal.
 
          21            The -- The turtle deal naturally has not a
 
          22       lot of effect on the shrimp fishery, but we do
 
          23       have turtle excluders in the Gulf of Mexico,
 
          24       and if we can help protect the turtle and we're
 
          25       only restricting an area that has produced less
 
 
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           1       than 2 percent of the catch of the Gulf
 
           2       fishery, I would say that that's pretty good.
 
           3            And that's all I have for you today.
 
           4                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you, sir.
 
           5       Questions or comments?
 
           6            Thank you, Mr. Evans.  Ms. Vu, if you'd
 
           7       please come forward and prepare yourself to
 
           8       speak while we hear from Mr. Sybert.
 
           9                 MR. SYBERT:  Mr. Chairman --
 
          10                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Wait, Sybert.
 
          11                 MR. SYBERT:  Sybert.  I'm Brian
 
          12       Sybert with the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra
 
          13       Club.  Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee,
 
          14       thank you for the opportunity to speak.  I'd
 
          15       like to open my comments by thanking
 
          16       Commissioner Watson for attending the shrimp
 
          17       working group meetings and many of the public
 
          18       hearings.  It's good to have a commissioner
 
          19       there actually in the trenches grappling with
 
          20       the difficult issue that everybody has been for
 
          21       the last year.
 
          22            I'd also like to thank the other
 
          23       commissioners who took the time to also attend
 
          24       several of the public hearings.  I think that
 
          25       was a very useful endeavor.
 
 
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           1            About the regulations that we have before
 
           2       us today, I feel that what we have in front of
 
           3       us right now is basically a compromise.  The
 
           4       original regulations have been weakened
 
           5       basically in an effort to try to get more input
 
           6       buy-in from the shrimp industry and not the
 
           7       shrimp industry entirely, because there are
 
           8       members of the shrimp industry who do support
 
           9       the proposed regulations.  But there are
 
          10       certain members of the shrimp industry who
 
          11       simply we will never be able to appease, never
 
          12       be able to get input or buy-in from.  We'll
 
          13       never please Julius Collins from Texas Shrimp
 
          14       Association.  We're never going to please
 
          15       Richard Moore.  They are opposed to the
 
          16       regulations.  No matter how much we compromise
 
          17       them, they're going to be opposed to them.
 
          18            Given that, I would urge the Commission to
 
          19       go back to the original regulations, the
 
          20       regulations that were intact before this last
 
          21       Friday, before the final compromise and approve
 
          22       those regulations.  That set of regulations
 
          23       are the ones that include -- included the
 
          24       year-round, five-nautical-mile closure on the
 
          25       southern portion of the Texas coast.
 
 
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           1            Parks and Wildlife staff did the right
 
           2       thing from the beginning.  We had the science
 
           3       and the public support.  The two critical
 
           4       elements for implementing these proposed
 
           5       regulations and strong -- I would say we
 
           6       always continued to advocate for stronger
 
           7       regulations.  I would say the original
 
           8       regulations I would place as being fairly
 
           9       moderate, but a good step that needed to be
 
          10       taken.
 
          11            With -- Given the science, we know there's
 
          12       no discrepancies.  We've heard from the
 
          13       experts.  We have a 49- -- or a 39-year
 
          14       database indicating declines in the shrimp
 
          15       fishery.  We have bycatch studies indicating
 
          16       significant impacts to recreational sports
 
          17       fish, to commercial fish, economically
 
          18       viable -- economically significant fish,
 
          19       endangered species of sea turtles and impacts
 
          20       to bottom habitats.  The science is -- is
 
          21       there.  It's confirmed.  There's no point in
 
          22       arguing or debating it anymore.  We can throw
 
          23       as many facts and figures.  We've heard today
 
          24       from the experts and we know it's in.
 
          25            We have the public support.  96 percent of
 
 
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           1       the comments received by Parks and Wildlife
 
           2       were in favor, not of the weakened version of
 
           3       the regulations that we have now before us, but
 
           4       for the version of the regulations that were
 
           5       published in the Texas Register.  The public
 
           6       supports the stronger regulations, not the
 
           7       weaker regulations.  The science supports the
 
           8       stronger regulations, not the weaker
 
           9       regulations.
 
          10            Given that, I would urge the Commission to
 
          11       move forward with the original set of
 
          12       regulations as published, or you would say,
 
          13       because there were some things made that we're
 
          14       not going to have significant problems with,
 
          15       but I would say the -- I would urge the
 
          16       Commission to move forward with the regulations
 
          17       that came out of the last shrimp working group
 
          18       meeting, which did include the year-round,
 
          19       five-nautical-mile closure.  Again, with that
 
          20       closure, we're going to see significant
 
          21       decreases in bycatch, we're going to protect
 
          22       bottom habitat, we will protect and go a long
 
          23       way towards taking care of the sea turtle
 
          24       problem that is going to be out there lingering
 
          25       if we don't deal with it correctly now.
 
 
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           1            And unfortunately, if we don't implement
 
           2       strong regulations and deal with it adequately
 
           3       at this moment, we're going to have to re --
 
           4       revisit this issue again and again and again,
 
           5       and it's going to be a heck of a lot more
 
           6       painful going back through it again and again
 
           7       than this whole process has been.  This has
 
           8       been a very difficult, but important process
 
           9       that has had to be dealt with.
 
          10            So given that, again, we've got the
 
          11       science, we've got the public support.  Let's
 
          12       do it right the first time around.  Let's
 
          13       implement the regulations that were intact as
 
          14       of the last shrimp working group meeting and
 
          15       implement the year-round, five-nautical-mile
 
          16       closure and the nursery areas in the bay, which
 
          17       are very significant for protecting those --
 
          18       the bottom habitat and reducing bycatch in that
 
          19       area.
 
          20            And again thank you for the opportunity to
 
          21       speak and thanks.
 
          22                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.  Jeff
 
          23       Newell, if you'd come forward and prepare
 
          24       yourself.
 
          25            And Ms. Vu, the floor is yours.  Thank
 
 
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           1       you.
 
           2                 MS. VU:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman,
 
           3       and members of the Commission and Mr. Sansom
 
           4       for giving me the time to speak and a
 
           5       sincere appreciation and thank you for
 
           6       Commissioner Watson and all to attend a public
 
           7       meeting down in our area.
 
           8            My name is Twi Vu and I'm here today to
 
           9       represent and speak on behalf of the
 
          10       Vietnamese-American Shrimper Association, also
 
          11       known and VASA.  I have my written comments
 
          12       there.  It is pretty lengthy, but I'm going to
 
          13       go to the main -- highlight the main issue.
 
          14            After careful -- careful review and
 
          15       consideration of the new shrimp group proposal,
 
          16       our association cannot help, but conclude that
 
          17       these proposed rules are without scientific
 
          18       basis, VASA is committed to responsible
 
          19       stewardship for our marine resource.
 
          20            Although we have not agreed with Texas
 
          21       Parks and Wildlife's assessment of the
 
          22       biological concern for the shrimp and sea
 
          23       turtle resource, we have made a good faith
 
          24       effort to negotiate some type of conservation
 
          25       compromise.  Again, we would like to reiterate
 
 
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           1       what we have proposed.  It's the one-mile
 
           2       closure that prohibits all shrimp trawling from
 
           3       the beach seaward to one nautical mile and
 
           4       extending to the U.S.-Mexican border to the
 
           5       Texas-Louisiana boundary.  This proposal will
 
           6       benefit growth in the bay.
 
           7            The closed area will provide a spawning
 
           8       refuge for the white shrimp.  The white shrimp
 
           9       often spawn in a very -- in or very close to
 
          10       the surf, which is inside the 1 1/2 -- one
 
          11       mile.  A total closure will provide a cushion
 
          12       for fishing effort and additional protection to
 
          13       spawning adults, especially during the period
 
          14       when the gulf shrimp season opened.
 
          15            A significant number of late spawning
 
          16       females will be protected for the very first
 
          17       time ever in the history of shrimp management.
 
          18       It will also provide protection for small brown
 
          19       shrimp during spring and summer.  This is in
 
          20       conclusion with a lot of the fishermen
 
          21       experience out there.  This closure will
 
          22       also provide additional protection for the
 
          23       sea turtle, also provide protection for many
 
          24       finfish species and invertebrates that utilize
 
          25       the near shore area as habitat.  An enforcement
 
 
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           1       of a closed area would be immensely simplified.
 
           2       Enforcement wouldn't be too hard if the area's
 
           3       just closed.
 
           4            When we presented our conservation plan
 
           5       earlier in the month, we were told that it is a
 
           6       more severe measure than the current published
 
           7       rules and could not be legally inacted by the
 
           8       TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION at this
 
           9       time.
 
          10            We are compelled to response that we
 
          11       believe that our plan is more logical and
 
          12       responsible than the proposed rules.  Our
 
          13       organization believes that significant
 
          14       ecological benefit can be derived from our
 
          15       proposal without the economic hardship that
 
          16       will be realized from the Texas Parks and
 
          17       Wildlife proposal.
 
          18            If you cannot enact our proposal at this
 
          19       time, then we strongly request that you delay
 
          20       any shrimp rules until our plan can be
 
          21       considered.  We have made a sincere effort to
 
          22       work with this Department and we ask that the
 
          23       Commission at least give us the courtesy of the
 
          24       full consideration of a one-mile closure and we
 
          25       request that a written statement be made a part
 
 
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           1       of the record.
 
           2            Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of
 
           3       the Commission.
 
           4                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you, ma'am.
 
           5       For clarification, do you -- As part of your
 
           6       proposal, what was your proposal concerning the
 
           7       bay regulations?
 
           8                 MS. VU:  The bay, as we go back to
 
           9       the beginning, with National Marine Fishery
 
          10       saying there is overgrowth fishing.  We see
 
          11       that -- The only thing that we see in there is,
 
          12       like, the count size which need to be adopt --
 
          13       to address overgrowth.  But the bait, they
 
          14       cannot afford any more water closure.  They --
 
          15       They are down to the, you know, to such a small
 
          16       shrimping area already, and their time in
 
          17       shrimping is not very long.  They only have
 
          18       three months during the spring or, you know,
 
          19       spring season and then about four months during
 
          20       the summer season, but then you have to take
 
          21       into consideration of the weather that permit
 
          22       them of going out or not.
 
          23            But to address the overgrowth fishing,
 
          24       yes, that's what we see that, you know, the
 
          25       count side come in as an issue.  I mean, as
 
 
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           1       a --
 
           2                 COMMISSIONER AVILA:  Method to
 
           3       address?
 
           4                 MS. VU:  Yes.  Yes, sir.  Thank you.
 
           5       And for the Gulf, on the net restriction, our
 
           6       people and some of the Americans that live our
 
           7       area, shrimp the white shrimp most of the time
 
           8       and we make a living, say, 80 percent of the,
 
           9       you know, on white shrimping.
 
          10            And the white shrimp stay around the two
 
          11       miles and the three-mile zone, and if we -- if
 
          12       they restrict the net, yes, we will be a -- you
 
          13       know, we will make every attempt to adapt our
 
          14       boat -- I mean, make the boat to go inside
 
          15       there and fish.
 
          16            That's why we feel like the net
 
          17       restriction is not going to help because it's
 
          18       just going to create more effort inside there
 
          19       because they're catching a little bit more.
 
          20       That's why we feel that, you know, if you
 
          21       restrict to three mile, that means you cut us
 
          22       completely out that shrimping area.
 
          23                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.  Other
 
          24       questions or comments for Ms. Vu at this time?
 
          25            Thank you very much, ma'am.
 
 
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           1                 MS. VU:  Thank you.
 
           2                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Kevin Daniels, if
 
           3       you'd come forward and be prepared while we
 
           4       hear from Mr. Newell.
 
           5                 MR. NEWELL:  All right.  Dear ladies
 
           6       and gentlemen of the Commission.  First, let me
 
           7       thank the Parks and Wildlife for giving me this
 
           8       extraordinary opportunity to be here to voice
 
           9       my opinion on the regulations being proposed.
 
          10       I am here to talk about the gulf waters and the
 
          11       two-net law proposal.  I own and operate a
 
          12       73-foot gulf trawler, so I live and breathe
 
          13       shrimping every day.  I've been shrimping for
 
          14       25 years and have seen many changes in the
 
          15       industry.
 
          16            Changes are sometimes good and sometimes
 
          17       not.  For instance, the use of air
 
          18       conditioning, better deck lighting, better
 
          19       safety gear, the GPS with computer navigation,
 
          20       these are good changes.  But the buildup of big
 
          21       vessels with large amounts of horsepower
 
          22       pulling four 60- to 80-foot trawls that use
 
          23       huge, heavy trawl doors, heavy chains, and very
 
          24       often shrimping around the clock I have found
 
          25       not to be a good change for our coastal
 
 
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           1       environment, especially the near shore waters
 
           2       and certainly not for an extended period of
 
           3       time.
 
           4            The trawl design has improved over the
 
           5       years.  The use of spectrum webbing, this is a
 
           6       lightweight, strong, easy-to-tow webbing.  This
 
           7       webbing has allowed boats without big
 
           8       horsepower to tow with larger nets.  I know
 
           9       this because I have used the webbing to go from
 
          10       pulling 4 40-foot nets to 4 50-foot trawls.
 
          11            The availability to low-interest loans has
 
          12       made it possible to refurbish old boats or buy
 
          13       bigger new boats, so as competition -- as the
 
          14       competition has increased, this has created an
 
          15       atmosphere of get-all-you-can-get-today,
 
          16       because if you do not, someone else will.
 
          17            So you see that there are many factors
 
          18       involved in shrimping and it is at this time, I
 
          19       believe, we are pushing the limit of harvest on
 
          20       our near-shore shrimp.  The two-net law is a
 
          21       fair, efficient means to addressing this
 
          22       problem.
 
          23            There are some in the industry who have
 
          24       made claims that this law would cost them their
 
          25       jobs and loss of income.  I do not believe this
 
 
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           1       to be true.  I do believe this will create
 
           2       changes in the way we work our boats.  Some of
 
           3       the boats may decide to shrimp offshore where
 
           4       they are allowed to pull the four trawls, but
 
           5       this law would level the playing field
 
           6       indiscriminately allowing anyone, regardless of
 
           7       race, size of boat, or anything else, providing
 
           8       that they have a Texas gulf license, the right
 
           9       to work and harvest shrimp.
 
          10            The truth is that because the
 
          11       near-shore -- the near-shore effort has grown
 
          12       so fast so furiously that I have personally
 
          13       experienced a decline in income and have been
 
          14       forced to look offshore for a better catch.
 
          15            For many years, I was what we in the
 
          16       business refer to as a white shrimper,
 
          17       shrimping the shallower water, but I've found I
 
          18       cannot compete with the numerous large boats
 
          19       pulling their very large trawls, and to be
 
          20       honest, have not seen the amount of white
 
          21       shrimp that we had in the past.  And if some
 
          22       shrimp do show up, there are just too many
 
          23       boats working those shrimp.
 
          24            Therefore, if you do not implement this
 
          25       law, many like myself will be forced out of
 
 
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           1       business or will have to try to survive on a
 
           2       much smaller income.  So the very essence of
 
           3       this law provides some conservation, and at the
 
           4       same time, preserving he Texas shrimp
 
           5       industry.
 
           6            And by the way, the desire for this law is
 
           7       not new to the industry.  This is a law that
 
           8       has been wanted for quite sometime.  So -- We
 
           9       have had net restrictions in our bays for a
 
          10       long time, so it would seem appropriate for our
 
          11       state outside waters as well.
 
          12            I realize Parks and Wildlife has heard
 
          13       more shrimpers against this law than for it,
 
          14       but I believe the majority have not been heard
 
          15       from one way or the other.  And some simply
 
          16       trust the Department to do the right thing.
 
          17            I think it is important to stay with the
 
          18       five-mile Northern Zone package.  This amount
 
          19       of mileage will give the shrimp the area needed
 
          20       to sustain an adequate population.  Plus, this
 
          21       zone provides more conservation or finfish and
 
          22       see turtles.  Going only out to three miles
 
          23       like putting a small Band-aid on a huge wound,
 
          24       but it's still better than nothing.
 
          25            As for the Southern Zone, it would seem
 
 
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           1       better to leave it as the first proposal or
 
           2       close from the beach out to three miles
 
           3       year-round and require no more than two nets
 
           4       from four to five miles out subject to the same
 
           5       seasonal openings and closures as in the
 
           6       Northern Zone.  Thank you.
 
           7                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you,
 
           8       Mr. Newell.
 
           9            Any questions at this time from
 
          10       Mr. Newell?
 
          11            Thank you.  Appreciate your insights.
 
          12            Kevin Daniels.
 
          13            Ray Allen, would you come up and be ready
 
          14       to speak after we hear from Mr. Daniels,
 
          15       please.
 
          16            The floor is yours, Kevin.
 
          17                 MR. DANIELS:  Thank you,
 
          18       Mr. Chairman.  Again, my name is Kevin Daniels
 
          19       and I'm with CCA Texas.  Since Mr. Moore kind
 
          20       of opened the door on the subject, I'd like to
 
          21       clarity one point he made or one comment he
 
          22       made that that $3 increase in the saltwater
 
          23       stamp as you're all aware doesn't just affect
 
          24       the 40,000 CCA members, but the 600,000
 
          25       saltwater stamp buyers, so it's quite a bit
 
 
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           1       larger public.  I'd like to say I think a lot
 
           2       of these, a lot of this discussion has been
 
           3       about the fear of the unknown, fear of change.
 
           4            Certainly recognizing that the industry
 
           5       and -- and these people's livelihood are going
 
           6       to change or could change, a lot of unknown
 
           7       there, and I'd like to draw an analogy, if I
 
           8       let me.
 
           9            The analogy is with air bags in the auto
 
          10       industry.  When they were first proposed,
 
          11       nobody wanted them.  They were not going to be
 
          12       profitable, a loss of profitability to the
 
          13       industry.  But the science was there, the data
 
          14       was there.  It was -- It was the right thing to
 
          15       do, but those air bags were put into cars not
 
          16       with the knowledge that you would be in a
 
          17       wreck, but based on the possibility that you
 
          18       might be in a wreck.
 
          19            So the unknown is -- is -- There's really
 
          20       no way to predict that, but I think if we talk
 
          21       about the possibility of overfishing, it does
 
          22       exist, just as the possibility you might have
 
          23       been in an auto accident existed, and you need
 
          24       to take some precautionary measures and I think
 
          25       that's we're really talking about here.
 
 
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           1              As I know, we're really walking on a lot
 
           2       of plowed ground here, I won't -- I won't
 
           3       burden you with many details, but I'd only say
 
           4       that CCA supports all of the proposed
 
           5       regulation changes as now modified.
 
           6            I would genuinely like to thank the Texas
 
           7       Parks and Wildlife staff and the Commissioners
 
           8       as well as members of the shrimping industry
 
           9       who I believe -- I genuinely believe who've
 
          10       honestly worked openly and hard over the last
 
          11       three months certainly anyway to try to come up
 
          12       with some reasonable solutions for some really
 
          13       difficult problems.
 
          14            I would -- I would hope that everybody
 
          15       would at some time come to believe that -- that
 
          16       we're truly in this together, rebuild a sense
 
          17       of trust, as you -- as you mentioned earlier.
 
          18       That will -- That will take some time, but I
 
          19       think that the dialogue that's already begun
 
          20       needs to continue doing that.
 
          21            But I really would say that the industry,
 
          22       the shrimping industry in Texas, needs to --
 
          23       needs to understand that their profitability is
 
          24       not necessarily in the best interest of the
 
          25       public.  And the public should also conversely
 
 
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           1       understand that -- that the shrimping industry
 
           2       is not the single largest evil of our marine
 
           3       resources.  We must all contribute to the
 
           4       conservation of this resource.
 
           5            You know, conservation is a burden and I
 
           6       think it's reasonable to ask that all users of
 
           7       public resource should shoulder their fair
 
           8       share of the burden.  Each of us is responsible
 
           9       to maintain a healthy and sustainable habitat
 
          10       and fishery.  The proposed regulatory changes
 
          11       we believe are the minimum measures that --
 
          12       that you should adopt to preserve these subject
 
          13       resources for all user groups.
 
          14            Thank you.
 
          15                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Questions or
 
          16       comments?
 
          17            Thank you.
 
          18            Mr. Allen.
 
          19                 MR. ALLEN:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman
 
          20       and Commissioners.  I'm Ray Allen.  I'm
 
          21       director of the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries
 
          22       Program in Corpus Christi.  We're the
 
          23       implementation organization of the Corpus
 
          24       Christi Bay National Estuary Program.
 
          25       Geographically, our specific area of interest
 
 
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           1       is from the land cut and bath and bay area up
 
           2       to the Aransas Wildlife Refuge and Mesquite Bay
 
           3       Area.
 
           4            First, I'd like to thank the staff for
 
           5       soliciting our input and participation in
 
           6       numerous meetings.  I would say as the
 
           7       shrimpers mentioned, we also were not tipped
 
           8       off early to these coming rules.  We wish we
 
           9       had been.  We would have liked to have seen
 
          10       them earlier.  We think there's room for
 
          11       improvement in the other direction.
 
          12            I was also somewhat amused here, and since
 
          13       I'm speaking last, I have a little bit of a
 
          14       rebuttal opportunity here.  There was some
 
          15       discussion earlier on about taking a
 
          16       conservative approach to managing the resource,
 
          17       and I would tell you from my perspective is
 
          18       that we have not taken a conservative approach
 
          19       to managing the resource.  In fact, we are
 
          20       walking the line as -- I think it was
 
          21       Mr. Zimmerman said.  We are at the edge of
 
          22       losing this resource.
 
          23            And I don't want to be up here crying, you
 
          24       know, the sky is falling, but honestly, at this
 
          25       time last year, we really thought the sky was
 
 
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           1       falling.  Since then we've had another good
 
           2       year offshore, but not necessarily in the bays
 
           3       and -- and there's a variety of reasons for
 
           4       that.  Let me just say concerning the proposed
 
           5       rules, we support the inclusion of the nursery
 
           6       areas as originally proposed in the rules.  We
 
           7       can accept them as now proposed in the revised
 
           8       version.
 
           9            I would point out, though, that -- that
 
          10       the designation by Parks and Wildlife, and
 
          11       frankly the legislature in designating nursery
 
          12       bays, bait bays, and major bays sometimes is a
 
          13       designation without distinction because, in
 
          14       fact, the bay systems the entire estuaries are
 
          15       a nursery area that we are dealing with
 
          16       juvenile and subadult populations of the
 
          17       resource here, whether it's the shrimp in this
 
          18       case or -- or many oft finfish or -- or other
 
          19       net-living resources of the area.
 
          20            We are -- In the bays, we are in the
 
          21       nursery grounds.  Some are perhaps more
 
          22       valuable nurseries than others, and perhaps
 
          23       that's what the regulations reflect.
 
          24            Growth overfishing, I think we are all
 
          25       very concerned about that.  Nobody wants to get
 
 
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           1       to the next stage where we are facing
 
           2       recruitment overfishing.  Again, I think we're
 
           3       somewhere between those lines and we got to be
 
           4       careful here.
 
           5            The proposal before you today as opposed
 
           6       to what was published deletes some very
 
           7       important components:  Increases in mesh size
 
           8       and an establishment of a minimum count size
 
           9       for the spring season.  We would request that
 
          10       those regulations be included in the final
 
          11       packet as they were in the original published
 
          12       proposal.
 
          13            Finally -- Or not finally yet, but the
 
          14       bay-bait shrimping issue is so complicated, it
 
          15       isn't really being addressed by these proposed
 
          16       rule changes here that -- that we're going to
 
          17       have to come back at a future date.  As you all
 
          18       know, this is just another step in the process
 
          19       of the management of this resource.  This
 
          20       confusion over who has bait licenses and bay
 
          21       licenses and where they shrimp and what size
 
          22       net they use and how many pounds they can take
 
          23       per day lends itself to a lot of abuse, a lot
 
          24       of misuse, a lot of misunderstanding, and I
 
          25       think somewhere along the line, we lost the
 
 
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           1       original intent of establishing a bait season
 
           2       and bait license.
 
           3            Finally now, on the -- On the Southern
 
           4       Zone gulf closure, I think the original
 
           5       proposal as put forth was a good idea.  It was
 
           6       real straightforward, easy to manage, easy to
 
           7       implement.  That's the published proposal.  The
 
           8       staff recommended proposal today is a little
 
           9       more complicated to manage, a little more
 
          10       difficult to implement and regulate.
 
          11            But having said that, I would tell you
 
          12       that I am pursuaded by some of the arguments
 
          13       put forth by the Gulf Shrimping Industry, the
 
          14       Texas Shrimp Association regarding the -- the
 
          15       sea turtles and regarding the apparent increase
 
          16       in nesting success on their grounds in Mexico.
 
          17       I think there's a very good story to be told
 
          18       there and so that if staff has come back today
 
          19       with a compromise proposal that -- that
 
          20       alleviates some of the gulf shrimper's
 
          21       concerns, then that's probably a livable
 
          22       solution.
 
          23            I think we need to keep a close eye on
 
          24       that.  At one time, 100 percent increase in
 
          25       turtle nesting is a great and wonderful thing.
 
 
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           1       We need to see that continue for the next four
 
           2       or five years.  So I -- I appreciate the
 
           3       agency's efforts here to keep a close eye on
 
           4       that.
 
           5            Finally, I would note in closing, the one
 
           6       concern we have, or I have, about the -- the
 
           7       southern closure is that it has an opening.
 
           8       And we all know what openings do, they -- they
 
           9       create a derby race.  You have now set a time
 
          10       limit where folks are going to be lined up
 
          11       ready to go, you know, to hit those areas that
 
          12       have been closed for those many months.  And --
 
          13       And I am at this point requesting that the
 
          14       Parks and Wildlife staff make a commitment to
 
          15       very closely monitor that situation that
 
          16       they've created there so that we don't get in
 
          17       the situation where too many boats are focusing
 
          18       on one small area because of these closures
 
          19       that have gone along.
 
          20            I'll be glad to answer any questions.
 
          21                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you,
 
          22       Mr. Allen.
 
          23            Any questions or comments at this time?
 
          24                 MR. ALLEN:  Thank you.
 
          25                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.
 
 
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           1            Well, we've heard a -- a broad spectrum of
 
           2       comments from various stakeholders in this
 
           3       issue this morning.  Obviously, I think this
 
           4       afternoon and tomorrow we'll have opportunity
 
           5       to -- to have considerable more public input
 
           6       before the Commission is -- is charged with
 
           7       making some final motions and -- and
 
           8       regulations.
 
           9            That being said, I think the appropriate
 
          10       thing at this point would be for the Chair to
 
          11       seek a motion to -- to forward this discussion
 
          12       to the public meeting stage for further input.
 
          13                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Mr. Chairman,
 
          14       for clarification, any -- anything that is --
 
          15       was published is still before the Commission
 
          16       regardless of the form or the recommendation
 
          17       that's been made by staff today; is that
 
          18       correct?
 
          19                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  I -- I believe any --
 
          20       anything that's --
 
          21                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Up or down in
 
          22       other words.
 
          23                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  -- that has been
 
          24       published by --
 
          25                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Previously by
 
 
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           1       the Department is certainly available for
 
           2       Commission action, and the caveat being I think
 
           3       that we cannot be more -- as all regulations,
 
           4       we cannot be more restrictive than something
 
           5       that has been published in the Register for
 
           6       public comment.
 
           7                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  The -- And
 
           8       moving forward with the staff's proposal does
 
           9       not necessarily commit the Commission to that
 
          10       proposal either.
 
          11                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  In no way.
 
          12                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  All of that
 
          13       being said, I would move that it be moved
 
          14       forward to tomorrow's meeting for --
 
          15                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  Action.
 
          16                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  -- action.
 
          17                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Motion and a second.
 
          18       Move this board for public comment and further
 
          19       meetings and consideration tomorrow.
 
          20            All in favor?
 
          21                 ALL COMMISSIONERS:  Aye.
 
          22                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Any opposed?
 
          23                 (No response, and motion carries
 
          24       unanimously.)
 
          25                CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.
 
 
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           1            The last item on the Regulations Committee
 
           2       agenda is an action item on Threatened and
 
           3       Endangered Species Regulation which we will
 
           4       consider tomorrow.  The Chair would -- would
 
           5       like to postpone the presentation until
 
           6       tomorrow's meeting when -- when the Commission
 
           7       will be in a position to hear the proposal
 
           8       reviewed and -- and take action and that will
 
           9       hopefully make us a little more expedient in
 
          10       the rest of our business and not too late for
 
          11       our one o'clock scheduled meeting.
 
          12            That said, that's no further business to
 
          13       come before the --
 
          14                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:
 
          15       Mr. Chairman --
 
          16                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  -- Regulations
 
          17       Committee.
 
          18                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  -- do we need
 
          19       to move that to the agenda for tomorrow?
 
          20                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  It certainly would
 
          21       not hurt.
 
          22                 COMMISSIONER DINKINS:  I so move.
 
          23                 COMMISSIONER ANGELO:  Second.
 
          24                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Motion and second.
 
          25            All in favor?
 
 
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           1                 ALL COMMISSIONERS:  Aye.
 
           2                 (No resonse, and motion carries
 
           3       unanimously.)
 
           4                 CHAIRMAN BASS:  Thank you.  And that
 
           5       being said, no further business for the
 
           6       Regulations Committee.  I pass the -- adjourn
 
           7       that and pass the gavel to my colleague from
 
           8       the Finance Committee.
 
           9                 (SESSION ENDS.)
 
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.                                                              136
 
 
 
           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       137 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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.                                                              137
 
 
 
           1
 
           2
 
           3                          LEE M. BASS, CHAIRMAN
 
           4
 
           5                          CAROL E. DINKINS
 
           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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