CCA Texas volunteers and staff have had an enormously busy banquet season thus far and are preparing to push through the second half of the year. CCA Texas fundraisers across the state have been strong across the board and, to date, 40 local CCA Texas chapters have held their annual fundraising and membership banquets. Other chapter activity continues to pick up and provide opportunities for CCA members to be involved in many different ways. Many chapters have periodic General Membership Meetings with guest speakers and social hours, along with chapter fishing tournaments, kid-fish events, and other community related activities. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved, so watch for correspondence through Currents or eBlasts from your local chapter. For more information about CCA Texas and upcoming events, be sure to visit www.ccatexas.org.
Advocacy is a cornerstone of CCA’s success and continues to be at the forefront of the day to day business for CCA. As was discussed in prior issues, this year’s Texas legislative session was extremely busy with lots of focus on the oyster fishery.
HB51 established five key points within the oyster industry:
- An Oyster License Buyback Program has now been established and will go into effect in June 2018. This program will be funded by 20% of the revenue from license fees, grants, and donations
- A Vessel Monitoring System will be implemented into the oyster fishery.
- Cultch replacement by dealers. This new requirement will require that 30% of oyster shell, by volume, of the prior years’ purchases must be returned to the bays.
- The full oyster boat crew must now be licensed.
- Enhanced penalties will now be in effect for both oyster fishermen and dealers. These penalties are progressive, based on the number of citations issued by law enforcement, and include Class B and C misdemeanors, with further provision of suspension of licenses for the captain, crew, boat and dealers.
In addition to HB51, TPWD Coastal Fisheries managers have made the following recommendations to the TPWD Commission for regulatory changes within the fishery.Public hearings are slated for late July and early August. Be sure to watch for communications from CCA Texas as these schedules are announced and become a part of the process.
Changes recommended to the TPWD Commission for the oyster industry:
- Harvest limits of 25 sacks/day.Current harvest limits are 40 sacks/day.
- Limit the number of days of fishing to 5 days per week, Tuesday through Saturday.Current regulations allow for fishing to occur Monday through Saturday, from sunrise until 3:30 PM
- Reduction in undersize tolerance on oysters harvested from 15% to 5%.This includes live oysters less than 3” and also the amount of dead shell within a sack of oysters.
- Closure of the following minor bays to oyster harvest: Christmas Bay (Brazoria County), Carancahua Bay (Jackson & Calhoun Counties), Keller Bay (Calhoun County), Powderhorn Lake (Calhoun County), Hynes Bay (Refugio County), St. Charles Bay (Aransas County) and South Bay (Cameron County).
- Close all areas within 300 feet of shoreline to oyster harvest, thus protecting intertidal zone oyster beds
Public hearings are your opportunity to speak up for the resource. Be an active participant and make a difference for the future.
Making progress in the Gulf Council
US Department of Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, announced the 2017 Regional Fishery Management Council (RFMC) appointments and has shown that recreational fishing and boating are important to the Trump administration. The makeup of the Gulf Council took a turn for the recreational fishermen of Texas and other Gulf states with the announcement that Phil Dyskow of Florida, Dr. Bob Shipp of Alabama, and Dr. Greg Stunz of Texas were appointed as members of the Gulf Council. The Gulf Council’s makeup has long been comprised of a strong commercial fishing component and these appointments will now provide a much stronger recreational voice. While much work lies ahead, the recreational fishermen will now have a stronger and equal voice. For more details, be sure to visit www.joincca.org/articles/
Habitat work continues along the Texas Gulf Coast
CCA Texas’s Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow and the CCA National Habitat Program, Building Conservation Trust, continue to work with TPWD, other like agencies, organizations and institutions to restore and create habitat up and down the Texas coast. New partnerships are being built and these combined efforts are helping to ensure a healthy eco-system for many years to come.
RGV Nearshore Reef - Habitat work continues to move forward in nearshore waters along the Texas Gulf Coast.The RGV reef saw more materials deployed the last week of June and anticipates additional reefing material placement during July and August. The late-June deployments included 50 pyramids that were placed in specific configurations for scientific studies. These pyramids were donated and deployed by Lil’ Mo Marine Services and Atlantis Marine Habitats LLC. Pending other approvals, 56,000 cinder blocks and 3,000 tons of concrete rubble are also expected to be deployed in the near future.Bird Island Cove Grass Planting – CCA Texas/BCT and TPWD hope to have completed the planting of approximately 32,000 smooth cord grass stems by the time this edition hits the newsstands. These plantings will be accomplished in Bird Island Cove, located in West Galveston Bay. This project creates and protects over 100 acres of coastal marsh along Galveston Island, providing critical habitat for many early-life marine animals.