Texas bay shrimp industry: Status report and recommendations. Executive summary.
Texas Coastal and Marine Council.
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OBJECTIVES AND PURPOSE: The 67th Texas Legislature (Regular Session, 1981) responded to expressed concerns over deteriorating biological, social and economic conditions in the Texas bay shrimp industry by the passage of Senate Bill 749. This legislation contained two major provisions. First, a temporary two year moratorium (freeze) was placed on the issuance of commercial bay and bait shrimping licenses on new or previously unlicensed boats. The objective of this provision was to temporarily stabilize the number of shrimp boats fishing in Texas bays. The second provision directed the Texas Coastal and Marine Council to conduct studies of the bay shrimp industry while the license moratorium was in effect. In carrying out this study the Council was specifically directed to concentrate on those factors affecting the statues of the bay shrimp industry and submit results of the study, including recommendations on the issuance of shrimp boat license, to the Governor and members of the 68th Texas Legislature. The purpose of this report is to provide information which will aid the Texas Legislature in managing the state's shrimp resources. Specific objectives adopted by the Texas Coastal and Marine Council in carrying out this study are as follows: 1. Determine the current status of the Texas bay shrimp industry. 2. Identify and assess any major issues, needs, or problems affecting the status of the industry. 3. Develop and evaluate alternative solutions to identified needs and problems of the industry, including the licensing of shrimp boats. 4. Submit recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature on actions which could be taken to assist the industry and the state in managing the state's shrimp resources. SCOPE: The scope of this study is directed primarily to the Texas bay shrimp industry. However, the Texas bay shrimp industry has strong biological, economic, regulatory, social and political linkages to the Texas gulf shrimp industry. Consequently, comprehensive consideration of the bay industry must also include consideration of the gulf industry in order for meaningful, and realistic, recommendations to be prepared for legislative consideration. In the recommendations formulated and presented in this report, the Council considered the interactions between the bay and gulf industries where it was determined appropriate. Initially, the scope of this study was viewed as concentrating primarily on the impacts of the relocation of Vietnamese refugees to the Texas coast. Many of the refugees purchased or built shrimp boats and began competing with domestic shrimpers. In addition to the increased competition for a limited resource, numerous claims were made that Texas shrimp laws were being frequently violated. Also, questions arose concerning the financing sources of Vietnamese boats and possible preferential treatment by both federal and state government agencies. In the Council's investigation, no factual evidence could be obtained that clearly substantiated claims of widespread wrongdoing. A similar investigation, conducted independently by the Governor's Office, produced basically the same conclusions. The investigation did reveal, however, significant needs for improvement in the state's shrimp management and law enforcement capability. As a result, the Council expanded the cope of this study to include these findings.