New rules will cut giggers' haul
March 27, 2009 at 10:03 p.m.
Updated March 26, 2009 at 10:27 p.m.
Beginning Sept. 1, anglers will have to cut their flounder catches in half.
That's when the new bag limits for Southern flounder take effect.
Texas Parks and Wildlife commissioners announced Thursday that they approved reduced recreational and commercial bag limits for Southern flounder, according to an agency news release.
Recreational bag limits will change from 10 to five fish and commercial limits will change from 60 to 30 fish.
During the month of November, only two flounder may be caught in one day and only by hook and line. All other ways are prohibited.
The agency collected public comment on ways to help the flounder population reverse a downward abundance trend. The fish's population has declined by about 50 percent since the 1980s.
Ninety-five percent of public comments favored bag reductions and 90 percent cited opposition to a November closure. Commissioners noted that data and reports from anglers show a slight increase in flounder in 2007 and 2008, but the increase wasn't significant enough.
With the new rules, commissioners hope to increase the spawning stock biomass by more than 80 percent over a six-year period.
Wayne Boyd, a recreational fisherman who gigs flounder, attended the meeting to make a case against adding any more regulations.
"It didn't do any good," the president of King Fisher Marine Service in Port Lavaca said.
He wished more residents would have spoken up against the proposed rule changes, especially the commercial fishermen, who he says will be hurt the most by the reduced bag limits.
"They can't make a living in November," Boyd said.