Texas Parks and Wildlife Department commissioners are asking for public comment on proposed changes to the regulations on trot lines and other “passive” fishing gear. Changes include adding requirements and specification for floats and reducing the valid period for gear tags to reduce the negative impacts of abandoned gear in Texas public waters. Other types of passive fishing gear include jug lines, minnow traps, perch traps and throwlines.
The public commenting period is through Thursday, November 7. Comments can be submitted:
• in person during the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at 9 a.m. November 7 at TPWD headquarters, 4200 Smith School Road in Austin;
• by phone at 512-389-4853;
• or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Abandoned passive fishing gear is not easily identified and can harm fish and wildlife resources and present a nuisance and safety hazard to recreational users of public waters,” said Jarret Baker, TPWD assistant commander for marine enforcement. “These proposed changes would aid in identifying and monitoring lawful passive gear and help facilitate the removal of abandoned gear.”
The proposed changes would require passive fishing gear to have properly marked gear tags and floats attached to aid in distinguishing active gear from abandoned fishing gear and litter. These changes include adding a customer number from a valid fishing license on the gear tag and marking all passive fishing gear with floats that are at least six inches in length and not less than three inches in width. Floats for recreational anglers can be any color other than orange. Commercial fishing license holders will be required to use orange-colored floats.
The changes would also reduce the time between angler inspections to four days from 10. Scientific investigations conducted by TPWD show that fish mortalities as a result of “ghost fishing,” or the continuing effect of unattended passive gear, can increase after four days. Requiring the gear tags and the accompanying gear to be checked more frequently should reduce those unintended mortalities.
Additionally, the removal of abandoned fishing gear will have the added benefit of reducing threats to human health and safety.