In the state's ongoing effort to combat the spread of invasive zebra mussels, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has approved for public comment a proposal to add 30 counties in North and Central Texas to the recently-implemented rules requiring that all boats operating on public water be drained after use.
Additional counties being considered for vessel draining requirements are: Archer, Bastrop, Bell, Bosque, Burnet, Clay, Comal, Comanche, Coryell, Eastland, Ellis, Erath, Falls, Fayette, Freestone, Hamilton, Hays, Henderson (west of Hwy 19), Hill, Johnson, Leon, Limestone, Llano, McLennan, Navarro, Robertson, Somervell, Travis, Wichita, and Williamson.
The water draining regulations were implemented December 10 and are in effect on all public waters in Collin, Cooke, Dallas, Denton, Fannin, Grayson, Hood, Jack, Kaufman, Montague, Palo Pinto, Parker, Rockwall, Stephens, Tarrant, Wise, and Young counties. These same regulations are also in place on an emergency basis in Belton and Coryell counties.
The current rules require that persons leaving or approaching public water in the affected counties drain all water from their vessels and on-board receptacles. This applies to all types and sizes of boats whether powered or not, personal watercraft, sailboats, or any other vessel used to travel on public waters.
Applicable in all areas where boats can be launched, the regulation requires the draining of live wells, bilges, motors, and any other receptacles or water-intake systems coming into contact with public waters.
Under the current rules, live fish cannot be transported in water that comes from the water body where they were caught and personally caught live bait can be used only in the water body where it was caught.
The department is proposing to modify rules that affect participants in fishing tournaments that hold off-site weigh-ins. The proposed changes would allow anglers participating in a fishing tournament confined to one water body to transport live fish in water from that single water body to an identified weigh-in location, provided all water is drained before leaving that location. Anglers would be required to possess documentation provided by tournament organizers that would identify them as participants in a tournament.
Movement from one access point to another on the same lake during the same day does not require draining and there is an exception for governmental activities and emergencies. Marine sanitary systems are not covered by the new regulations.
Anglers are allowed to transport and use commercially purchased live bait in water provided they have a receipt that identifies the source of the bait. Any live bait purchased from a location on or adjacent to a public water body that is transported in water from that water body could only be used as bait on that same water body.
The public may comment on the proposed rules online athttp://tpwd.texas.gov/business/feedback/public_comment/proposals/201401_water_draining.phtml.
Comment may also be made in writing to Ken Kurzawski, TPWD Inland Fisheries, 4200 Smith School Rd., Austin, TX 78744, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or in person at any of the following two public hearings.
All meetings are set to begin at 7:00 pm.
Tuesday, January 7 in Austin at TPWD Headquarters, Commissioners Hearing Room, 4200 Smith School Rd..
Thursday, January 9 in Waco at the McLennan County Courthouse, Commissioners' Courtroom - 1st Floor, 501 Washington Ave..
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission is expected to take action on the proposed change at its November 7 meeting.