Texas is one step closer to approving new regulations aimed at stopping the spread of invasive fish species. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission reviewed the measure and approved the language. Now they want to hear from residents about what they think of the proposals.
The first proposed regulation would prohibit persons from leaving specified water bodies in the possession of live, nongame fish. This would prevent the accidental capture and movement of silver and bighead carp during bait-collecting activities for other nongame fish, especially gizzard or threadfin shad. These species can be easily misidentified at smaller sizes and within a large quantity of fish. Collection and use of nongame fishes for bait on those water bodies would still be legal.
The second proposal would impact water bodies where zebra mussels have been found or have a high potential of occurrence. Zebra mussels have a free-swimming, microscopic larval stage called a veliger. Any water collected from water bodies where zebra mussels are present could contain veligers. To prevent the accidental transport of zebra mussel veligers to other water bodies, any person leaving the specified water bodies would be required to drain or empty all water from bait buckets, live wells, bilges, and any other water intake systems or containers before the use of a public roadway.
District biologist Tim Bister says it's all about protecting native species from the competition caused by the invasive fish. "They are not meant to be here and they do not have the natural control mechanisms that ocur where they are native, so they tend to outcompete our native species and kind of grow out of control," he said.
The regulations would impact a number of East Texas waters, including the Red River below Lake Texoma, Big Cypress Bayou downstream of Ferrell’s Bridge Dam on Lake O’ the Pines, including the Texas waters of Caddo Lake, and the Sulphur River downstream of the Lake Wright Patman dam.
Public meetings will be scheduled for the coming weeks to get local input. You can also contact the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission through their website. http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/