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Under current law, for the sale or purchase of certain aquatic products, different occupational licenses are required (such as a commercial fisherman’s license or a commercial shrimp boat license). HB 1260 would also require a commercial gulf shrimp unloading license for the unloading of shrimp or other aquatic products taken from water outside the state.
This bill is attempting to take advantage of an economic opportunity Texas is currently missing as a result of out-of-state shrimp fishermen who fish in federal waters but who do not possess an appropriate state license to offload their catch in Texas.
This is an issue that is within the legitimate scope of the legislature to address. From a free market and limited government perspective, we do not see any reason why any fisherman, oysterman, shrimper, or crabber should have to have a special license simply to unload their catch in Texas. We would prefer to simply allow out-of-state shrimpers to unload their catch in Texas ports without a license.
Unfortunately, as it stands, Texas shrimpers must have a license to unload their shrimp so allowing out-of-state folks to unload in Texas without a license would put Texans at a comparative disadvantage. Because this legislation creates an avenue for out-of-state shrimpers working in federal waters to unload in Texas in a way that puts them on the same licensing ground as Texans, we will not object to HB 1260. Ultimately though a better course would be to abolish shrimp unloading licenses altogether because they are simply another unnecessary government permission slip a person must obtain to work in their chosen profession.