TITLE 31. NATURAL RESOURCES AND CONSERVATION

PART 2. TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT

CHAPTER 57. FISHERIES

SUBCHAPTER N. STATEWIDE RECREATIONAL AND COMMERCIAL FISHING PROCLAMATION

DIVISION 3. STATEWIDE COMMERCIAL FISHING PROCLAMATION

31 TAC §57.994

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in a duly noticed meeting on November 3, 2016, adopted an amendment to §57.994, concerning Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ), without changes to the proposed text as published in the September 30, 2016, issue of the Texas Register (41 TexReg 7682).

The IFQ is a federal regulatory program governing the commercial harvest of certain species of fish in federal waters. Federal rules require a federal permit and a federal Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) vessel endorsement for the harvest of Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish. The IFQ is an allocation of a percentage of the total allowable harvest to individuals engaged in commercial fishing for certain species in federal waters, who in turn must comply with certain documentation and reporting requirements. The amendment is necessary to allow enforcement of these requirements in state as well as federal jurisdiction and to insure that fish landed in Texas are landed in compliance with federal limits.

In 2013 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the federal agency responsible for regulating fisheries resources and habitats in federal waters, nonsubstantively reorganized the provisions of 50 CFR Part 622 (78 FR 22949). As a result of that reorganization, the references to federal rules in §57.994 are being updated.

The department received eight comments opposing adoption of the rule as proposed. All eight commenters provided a reason or rationale for opposing adoption. Those comments, accompanied by the department's response to each, follow.

One commenter opposed adoption of any rule that gives the federal government the right to control anything in Texas. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that the rule does not transfer any authority from the state to the federal government. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the department should not be aiding and abetting a federal government takeover of a natural resource. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that the rule does not alter the regulatory authority of either the state or the federal government with respect to natural resources. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the federal government should enforce its own laws. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that the rule does not affect enforcement of federal law by the federal government. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the rule is intended only to increase revenue. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that the rule does not affect revenue in any way. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that commercial take should be prohibited in state waters. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that there is no biological reason to prohibit commercial fishing in state waters. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the department should extend the territorial waters of Texas, ignore federal regulation of red snapper, and make red snapper a sportfish so that commercial fisherman could not land red snapper in Texas. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that the State of Texas has no authority to either extend territorial waters or ignore federal regulations, and that the designation of red snapper as a "sportfish" would not affect commercial landings. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated that the federal government has too much control and destroys states' rights. The department disagrees that the rule impacts federal authority, and responds that the rule does alter or transfer any authority currently enjoyed by state or federal government. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

The department received 12 comments supporting adoption of the rule as proposed.

No groups or associations commented on the proposed rule.

The amendment is adopted under Parks and Wildlife Code, §67.004, which requires the commission to establish any limits on the taking, possession, propagation, transportation, importation, exportation, sale, or offering for sale of nongame fish that the department considers necessary to manage the species.

The agency certifies that legal counsel has reviewed the adoption and found it to be a valid exercise of the agency's legal authority.

Filed with the Office of the Secretary of State on February 15, 2017.

TRD-201700642

Ann Bright

General Counsel

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Effective date: March 7, 2017

Proposal publication date: September 30, 2016

For further information, please call: (512) 389-4775