Support Texas Parks and Wildlife's Request to Protect the Biggest Fish in Texas (Alligator Gar)
This petition made change with 355 supporters!
EXCERPT FROM TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE'S WEBSITE:
Alligator gar populations are believed to be declining throughout much of their historical range in North America, which includes the Mississippi River system as well as the coastal rivers of the Gulf of Mexico from Florida to northern Mexico. Although the specific severity of these declines is unknown, habitat alteration and over-exploitation are thought to be partially responsible. Alligator gar have been extirpated in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio and designated as a “Species of Concern” in Oklahoma and Kentucky. In addition, the Endangered Fishes Committee of the American Fisheries Society has listed the alligator gar as “Vulnerable.” Observed declines in other states, vulnerability to overfishing, and increased interest in the harvest of trophy gar indicate that a conservative management approach is warranted. Since 2009, the department has conducted (and is continuing to conduct) research to determine the estimated harvest of alligator gar, quantify reproduction, understand habitat usage, and determine geographic differences in populations. Initial analysis of the research data indicate that alligator gar in Texas have the greatest chance of spawning success if the creation of preferred spawning habitat (the seasonal inundation of low-lying areas of vegetation) occurs in late spring through early summer. Since each year does not necessarily bring seasonal inundation at the optimum time, spawning success varies greatly. For example, department data for the middle Trinity River indicate that between 1980 and 2010, strong reproductive success occurred in only five years (1980, 1989, 1990, 1991, and 2007). Furthermore, in 21 of the years between 1980 and 2010, reproductive success was nonexistent or weak, and in many of these years, rainfall was low or drought conditions occurred. Because the conditions for spawning do not exist on a regular or cyclical basis, and because spawning occurs in shallow waters where numerous gar can be concentrated in one area, alligator gar are extremely vulnerable to harvest during spawning. To protect alligator gar from excessive harvest during spawning, the proposed new rule would allow the executive director of the department to prohibit the take of alligator in an affected area. The proposed new rule would require the executive director to provide appropriate public notice when an affected area is declared and when lawful fishing for alligator may resume, and would limit the duration of a prohibition to no more than 30 days. The proposed new rule is necessary to manage alligator gar populations and ensure their ability to perpetuate themselves successfully.
This agency hereby certifies that the proposal has been reviewed by legal counsel and found to be within the agency’s authority to adopt.
RECOMMENDATION: Staff recommends that the Commission adopt the proposed motion
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THIS WILL HELP TO ENSURE FUTURE GENERATIONS OF SPORTSMEN AND WOMEN TO KNOW THESE INCREDIBLY UNIQUE FISH
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