Seagrass Protection Comments Please!!!

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Seagrass Protection Comments Please!!!

Post by rost495 »

Its here in TX but thought I'd toss it out for all to see.

Thanks, Jeff

TPWD Seeks Input on Expanded Seagrass Protection

Agency Scoping Possibility of State Scientific Area near JFK Causeway

AUSTIN — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will hold initial scoping meetings and take online comments this winter about two possible regulations changes for 2012, depending on stakeholder input—a new state scientific area to protect seagrass in the Laguna Madre near the John F. Kennedy Memorial Causeway in Nueces County, and a clarification of emergency rules to protect fish during coastal freezes.

The two coastal items are part of possible statewide hunting and fishing regulation changes for 2012. They will not become official proposals until January, after which there will be more statewide meetings and comment opportunities before final rules are approved by the TPW Commission in March.

Shallow-water seagrass meadows are among the world’s most productive marine habitats, next to coral reefs, salt marshes and mangroves. Seagrass meadows serve as nurseries for juvenile game fish, crabs and shrimp. They also provide food for sea turtles, shorebirds and waterfowl, help prevent erosion, and play a biological filtering role to improve water quality.

The JFK causeway proposal would create a new 15,500-acre protected area similar to the Redfish Bay State Scientific Area created in 2000. Redfish Bay was the state’s first scientific area for education, scientific research, and preservation of flora and fauna of scientific or education value. A key goal was to allow submerged seagrasses time for recovery from extensive damage caused by outboard motor propellers, as well as prevent further harm to the delicate aquatic plants.

When the Redfish Bay area came up for five-year renewal in 2005, TPWD enacted a rule to prohibit seagrass uprooting in the scientific area. At that time, TPWD’s Coastal Fisheries Division launched a comprehensive outreach and education campaign about the new rule and the importance of seagrass, emphasizing a “Lift, Drift, Pole, Troll” message. In 2010, the TPW Commission voted to indefinitely extend the “no uprooting seagrass with a boat propeller” law in the Redfish Bay area.

Public surveys of boaters before and after the Redfish Bay rule change showed that 88 percent of respondents were aware of the regulation, and 87 percent of them reported that their boating behavior had changed, the most common change being to avoid known shallow areas.

Also, scientific studies demonstrated the Redfish Bay rule has helped seagrasses recover. Using transect surveys and aerial photography, coastal fisheries biologists found the number of boat propeller scars in Redfish Bay decreased 45 percent from 2005 to 2009. Among the good news: preliminary data suggest seagrass propeller scars may recover faster than was previously thought.

In the wake of this success, the TPW Commission directed staff to explore expanding seagrass protection on the Texas coast. The team came up with a short list of five sites, from Galveston Island down to South Bay near Brownsville.

The JFK causeway site was chosen because it has extensive shallow seagrass flats that would benefit from protection, plus heavy boat traffic with many access points. Also, the site offers beneficial “overlap” from the nearby Redfish Bay area, only 10 miles away. The region benefits from previous outreach and conservation efforts, and existing partners dedicating to helping the cause. Because of this, many boaters and anglers in the region are already familiar with rules and boating practices to protect seagrass.

Seagrass protection in the JFK causeway area would be essentially the same as in the Redfish Bay scientific area. Boaters could motor throughout the area under power as long as they do not uproot seagrass with boat propellers.

TPWD is also proposing to clarify rules to protect fish during prolonged freezing weather on the Texas coast. For example, on Feb. 2, the agency issued a temporary closure to saltwater fishing at specified areas or thermal refuges along the Texas coast. Texas has about two million acres of bays and estuaries susceptible to freeze. There were three major freezes during the 1980s, including one in 1989 when the temperature at Brownsville dropped to 16 degrees and an estimated 11 million fish were killed.

The existing rule says no one can fish with a hook and line, pole and line, or throwline in an affected area during a freeze closure. The proposed rule change for 2012 makes clear that no one may take or attempt to take any aquatic life by any means in an affected area during a freeze.

The agency will hold public meetings to scope both items along the coast before the Jan. 25-26 commission meeting in Austin, and will also take comments via the TPWD website. Interested parties should stay tuned to the agency news release web pages for meeting dates and locations. The staff will make proposals for commission consideration at the January meeting. If approved by the commission, the proposals will be published in the Texas Register and the items will be considered for final adoption at the March 28-29 commission meeting.

A map showing the outline of the proposed JFK causeway scientific area is available on TPWD’s news images web page.

——— ... /seagrass/

Media Contact: Tom Harvey, 512-389-4453,
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Re: Seagrass Protection Comments Please!!!

Post by Ruagatr »

What kind of comments are being solicited Rost? I cannot divine it from reading it....

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Re: Seagrass Protection Comments Please!!!

Post by MarshRider »

it looks like they want comments on whether this particular area should be
a "lift, drift, pole, troll" seagrass protection area.

It's about 15,500 acres of shallow grass where kicker boaters and maybe airbboats (I know, we don't
have motors that hang below the water line, but I don't see an exemption for airboats) would be required to poll/troll in order to fish in the area.

While they are targeting kicker boats, seems to me it would apply to everyone and would be one more area
not open to powered vessels. It may be a good project in terms of letting grass re-grow but it seems to me
it should come with a guarantee that they will revert back to allowing motorized vessels in this area when the
grass is grown back.

They site another area called Red Fish Bay which was closed several years ago in this same manner. They found,
and actually reported, that the grass grew back more quickly than they expected!

The problem I see is that they identified 5 areas throughout the Gulf Coast which could be candidates for this type
of motorized vessel exclusion and they settled on the JFK Causeway. That tells me there are four more they may very
well be planning on treating in the same fashion.

I hate to see motorized vessel groups pitted against each other. The kicker boat folks came to our rescue big time with
the Governor veto last year.

I think we need to read the proposed language on their web site. This is the group some of us spoke to this summer and
they were very supportive of airboats and airboaters.

back later
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Re: Seagrass Protection Comments Please!!!

Post by Ruagatr »

Like i said, i cant divine what texas wants. Tell us whats on gour mind gents.

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