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Relating to the management of commercial oyster boats in this state; amending a provision subject to a criminal penalty.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
HB 1189 would create a buyback program for commercial oyster boat licenses under a moratorium. This buyback program would have to be voluntary for license holders. TPWD would be required to retire those licenses but TPWD may reissue them if the Parks and Wildlife Commission deem it necessary for managing the oyster fishery. TPWD may reissue those licenses via an auction or lottery.
This bill would make harvesting an illegally sized oyster a crime, punishable by a Class C misdemeanor for a captain and crew members aboard a commercial oyster boat.
Lastly, HB 1189 would allow the commission to establish a vessel monitoring system for commercial oyster boats for regulatory purposes.
While we understand the government’s interest in managing the populations of certain species, we are apprehensive when it is involved in the regulation of a particular industry because of that mandate. Such is the case for the regulations of harvesting oysters.
This legislation would expand the scope of occupational licensing and make entrance into the commercial oyster industry even more restricted by further limiting the overall number of licenses available. For this reason we oppose HB 1189 on the grounds of individual liberty and limited government.