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 1. GENERAL PROVISIONS

31 TAC §57.979

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in a duly noticed meeting on January 24, 2018, adopted new §57.979, concerning the Statewide Recreational and Commercial Fishing Proclamations, without changes to the proposed text as published in the December 15, 2017, issue of the Texas Register (42 TexReg 7093).

Justification for the Rule.

The new section increases the commercial and recreational bag limits for King Mackerel from two fish per day to three fish per day. Federal action (82 FR 17387) in May 2017 increased the daily bag limit for King Mackerel in federal waters from two fish to three fish. The department has determined that making the daily bag limit in state waters identical to the daily bag limit in federal waters will provide additional angling opportunity to the public while preventing confusion and possible issues of compliance and enforcement without resulting in negative impacts to the resource. The minimum size limit shall remain 27 inches total length with no maximum size limit. In Texas, fish are measured by total length (TL) which is defined as the length of fish measured from the tip of the snout to the extreme tip of the tail fin.

Summary of Public Comment.

The department received 11 comments opposing adoption of the proposed rule. Of the comments opposing adoption, 10 articulated a reason or rationale for opposing adoption. Those comments, accompanied by the department's response to each, follow.

Five commenters opposed adoption and stated they feel the increase in bag limit from two to three fish per person will increase waste in the fishery. The department disagrees with the comments and has determined that the increase in bag limit will not result in negative impacts to the resource. The department will continue to enforce regulations relating to the unlawful waste of fish. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated they feel the rule change is an action to appease snapper fishermen. The department disagrees with this comment and responds that the department monitors and manages King Mackerel and snapper species independently. Proposed rule changes for game fish species are evaluated specifically to a given species. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated the stock cannot handle an increase in bag limit and this will increase risks to human health. The department disagrees with the comment and has determined that the increase in bag limit will not result in negative impacts to the resource. Data indicate King Mackerel numbers caught have increased within the last several years and catch per unit effort has remained stable over a longer period of time. The Texas Department of State Health Services is responsible for issuing fish consumption advisories and has not changed any advisory as a result of this proposed adoption. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

Two commenters opposed adoption and stated they oppose any increase in bag limits in general. The department disagrees with the comment and responds that data indicate King Mackerel numbers caught have increased within the last several years and catch per unit effort has remained stable for a longer period of time. The department feels the King Mackerel fishery can accommodate an increase in bag limit and remain a sustainable fishery. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

One commenter opposed adoption and stated they oppose any matching of federal regulations. The department disagrees with this comment and responds that the department sees the regulation change as an appropriate and necessary measure to provide additional angling opportunity to the public while preventing confusion and possible issues of compliance and enforcement without resulting in negative impacts to the resource. No changes were made as a result of the comment.

The department received 133 comments supporting adoption of the proposed rule.

Statutory Authority.

The new section is adopted under the authority of Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 61, which requires the commission to regulate the periods of time when it is lawful to take or possess aquatic animal life in this state; the means, methods, and places in which it is lawful to take or possess aquatic animal life in this state; the species, quantity, age or size, and, to the extent possible, the sex of the aquatic animal life authorized to be taken or possessed; and the region, county, area, body of water, or portion of a county where aquatic animal life may be taken or possessed.

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 23, 2018.

TRD-201800772

Robert D. Sweeney, Jr.

General Counsel

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Effective date: March 15, 2018

Proposal publication date: December 15, 2017

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


CHAPTER 61. DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION

SUBCHAPTER A. CONTRACTS FOR PUBLIC WORKS

31 TAC §61.22

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in a duly noticed meeting on January 25, 2018, adopted new §61.22, concerning Purchase of Iron or Steel Products, without changes to the proposed text as published in the December 8, 2017, issue of the Texas Register (42 TexReg 6896).

The new section requires the department to develop, implement, and follow guidelines and policies to ensure compliance with the provisions of Government Code, Chapter 2252, Subchapter F, which was created by the enactment of Senate Bill 1289 by the 85th Texas Legislature (Regular Session). The bill sets forth certain requirements for projects by governmental entities that involve the purchase of iron or steel products.

Under the provisions of Government Code, §2252.202, as added by S.B. 1289, a governmental entity subject to the requirements of the bill is required to adopt rules to promote compliance with the requirements of the bill. The new rule establishes the department's intent to do so.

The department received two comments opposing adoption of the rule as proposed. Both commenters questioned the necessity of the rule. The department disagrees with the comments and responds that under the provisions of S.B. 1289, the department is required to adopt rules concerning the purchase of iron and steel products. That requirement cannot be waived or modified by the department. No changes were made as a result of the comments.

The department received one comment that was neither in favor of nor opposed to adoption of the rule.

The department received two comments supporting adoption of the rule.

The new rule is adopted under the authority of Government Code, §2252.202, which requires any agency that purchases iron or steel products for certain projects to adopt rules to promote compliance with the provisions of Government Code, §2252.202.

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 23, 2018.

TRD-201800771

Robert D. Sweeney, Jr.

General Counsel

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Effective date: March 15, 2018

Proposal publication date: December 8, 2017

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