Effects of a minimum size limit on spotted seatrout recreational harvest.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission imposed a 305-mm total-length minimum size limit on spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus) in December 1978 because of a continued decline in landings of this species by both recreational and commercial fishermen. This regulation was established for recreational angling along the Texas coast to increase the number of adult spawners in the population. The effect of the size limit upon the harvest was determined through comparisons of lengths and weights collected before (1977- 1978) and after (1979-1981) the regulation went into effect. The percentage of sublegal (<= 300mm) fish landed was significantly different among bays, and significantly smaller after the regulation was in effect. The overall decrease in the percentage of sublegal fish that was landed indicated that most of the anglers were complying with the size limit. A significant change was found in the mean weight of the catch from one bay after the size limit was established. However, mean weight data were insensitive for determining the effects of the regulation. The size limit affected the recreational harvest of spotted seatrout by (1) decreasing the number of spotted seatrout 300 mm or shorter that were creeled, and (2) increasing the number of spotted seatrout available for spawning.