TPWD News Release — Feb. 12, 2007
AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Coastal Conservation Association Texas teamed up to retire a record number of inshore shrimping licenses this year.
Using dedicated funding, TPWD was able to purchase 159 licenses. In addition to that funding, CCA contributed $200,000, which allowed for the purchase of an additional 40 licenses. This brought the total number of licenses offered for this fiscal year to199, representing the largest number ever accepted to purchase in any one round of the license buy-back program.
A total of 226 license bid applications were received from Texas shrimpers to sell their licenses back to the state in the nineteenth buy-back round, which closed in January.
Texas saltwater anglers must purchase a saltwater fishing stamp each year and $3 of that stamp goes to the buy-back effort, generating around $1.4 million annually.
“The ongoing partnership between TPWD and the CCA is unparalleled anywhere in the United States”, said Larry McKinney, Ph.D., director of TPWD’s Coastal Fisheries division. “The CCA’s strong conservation ethic and willingness to put their money where their mouth is translates into direct and positive benefits to our coastal fisheries.”
“We feel this is a positive step towards conserving blue crabs, croaker, flounder and other species that are caught as bycatch in bay shrimp trawls, noted Robby Byers, executive director of CCA Texas. “The sooner we can meet the goals of the buy-back program, the better all of our bay systems will be."
The inshore shrimp license buy-back program was established with the limited entry program in 1995 by the Texas legislature. The legislative initiative was designed to more effectively deal with the issue of over-shrimping through capping the sale of new licenses and allowing for a buy-back program to retire licenses from voluntary and willing sellers.
TPWD has spent $9.8 million and purchased 792 bay licenses and 746 bait licenses — about 47 percent of the licenses in existence — since then, not including the latest round.
Shrimping effort on Texas bays has declined from about 20,000 days per year in the mid-1980s to less than 10,000 days per year now.
Bay and bait shrimp license holders may still sell their licenses on the open market, or sell them back to TPWD through the buy-back program. McKinney noted that many factors, including increasing competition from farm-raised and imported shrimp and the high cost of diesel fuel, have led some shrimpers to the decision to quit the business.
“We’re not telling people they have to get out of the business,” McKinney said. “But if, for economic or other reasons, shrimpers decide to hang up their nets, at least we can help them out a little bit. In the end, we’ll have a healthier, sustainable commercial fishery for those who stick it out as well as all the benefits of reduced bycatch.”