Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Coastal Fisheries Division:
An Inventory of Parks and Wildlife Department Coastal Fisheries Division Records at the Texas State Archives, 1951-1999, bulk 1980-1999
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is responsible for the management and conservation of the state's wildlife and fish resources; provision of outdoor recreational opportunities to the public; acquisition, development, and operation of wildlife management areas, fish hatcheries, state parks, historic sites, and other public lands; conservation education and outreach; cultural and historical interpretation; and the regulation of fishing, hunting, and boating activities. The Department is composed of ten major divisions which carry out the functions and duties of the agency: Wildlife, State Parks, Coastal Fisheries, Inland Fisheries, Communications, Law Enforcement, Infrastructure, Administrative Resources, Legal, Information Technology, and Human Resources. An Executive Director, selected by the Parks and Wildlife Commission, administers the department. In 2005, the agency employed the full-time equivalent of 3,038 people.
The Parks and Wildlife Department is governed by the Parks and Wildlife Commission, initially composed of three members, increased to six members in 1972, and as of 1983, nine members, appointed by the Governor with approval of the Senate. Members serve six-year overlapping terms. The Commission chairperson is appointed biennially by the Governor. The Commission meets quarterly or more often as needed. Its chief responsibility is to adopt policies and rules to carry out the programs of the Parks and Wildlife Department.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) had its beginnings in 1879 when the 16th Texas Legislature authorized the Governor to appoint a fish commissioner to ensure compliance with an Act for the preservation of fish, and to build fish ways and fish ladders (Chapter 92, 16th Legislature, Regular Session). In 1881, the Office of the Fish Commissioner was established (Chapter 78, 17th Legislature, Regular Session). It was created for the "propagation and preservation of fish and to build fish-ways and fish-ladders…," and existed through 1885. The commissioner was appointed to a two-year term by the Governor, with the approval of the Senate.
In 1895, the Office of the Fish and Oyster Commissioner was created by House Bill 55, 24th Legislature, Regular Session, with the commissioner appointed by the Governor as before. The duties included the protection of fish, turtles and terrapin of the bays and coastal waters of the state, protection of natural oyster beds and reefs, and the protection of the location of private beds. The Commissioner had the authority to appoint Deputy Commissioners to assist in carrying out the duties of the office. In 1907, protection of wild birds and wild game was added to the responsibilities of that office, which became the Office of the Game, Fish and Oyster Commissioner (House Bill 379, 30th Legislature, Regular Session). This Commissioner appointed Deputy Game Commissioners to assist in carrying out the duties of the office.
The single commissioner was replaced by a six-member commission in 1929 and the agency became the Game, Fish, and Oyster Commission (Senate Bill 83, 41st Legislature, Regular Session). The commissioners were appointed to six year terms by the Governor with the approval of the Senate, and were selected from different sections of the state. The chair was appointed by the Governor. Duties of the commission included administering the state's laws relating to game and fish; preventing pollution of streams; issuing hunting, trapping, and fishing licenses; collecting fees, taxes, and fines; conducting research; and proclaiming and enforcing open seasons and bag limits on game and fish. The commission also operated fish hatcheries and sanctuaries, administered game and hunting preserves, supervised oyster beds in the state, controlled and exterminated predatory animals and fish, and educated the public in the preservation of wildlife and fish and game resources of the state. It had the authority to create rules and regulations as necessary to carry out its duties. The name was changed to the Texas Game and Fish Commission in 1951 and the size of the board was increased to nine members (Senate Bill 463, 52nd Legislature, Regular Session).
The Texas State Parks Board was created in 1923 (Senate Bill 73, 38th Legislature, First Called Session) to investigate prospective park sites in the state and report to the Legislature with recommendations, and to solicit and accept donations of land for state park purposes. The State Parks Board was initially composed of five members, appointed by the Governor with the approval of the Senate to six year terms, and they were to be state officers. The number of board members increased to six in 1937 (Senate Bill 484, 45th Legislature, Regular Session). This board was to begin locating sites for the establishment of the state parks system. It directed and managed state parks created, except the historical parks which were managed by the Board of Control and/or several separate commissions. The Parks Board was charged with locating, designating, and marking historic grounds, battlegrounds, and other historic sites in the state, and erecting markers and monuments at such sites. The board also had the authority to create rules and regulations as necessary to carry out its duties. The primary function of the board between 1923 and 1933 was to acquire lands for parks through donations. In 1933, federal funds became available for state park development and the board worked with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the National Park Service for the development of better park sites for a state parks system. The CCC provided labor during the 1930s to improve state park lands and facilities. In 1949, the state historical parks were transferred to the State Parks Board, except for the San Jacinto Battlefield, the Battleship Texas, and the Fannin Battlefield, which were still controlled by their respective commissions--the San Jacinto Battlefield Commission, the Battleship Texas Commission, and the Fannin Battlefield Commission (House Bill 120, 51st Legislature, Regular Session). Jurisdiction over the Fannin and San Jacinto Battlefields was transferred to TPWD in 1965 (House Bill 102, 59th Legislature, Regular Session). Battleship Texas was transferred to TPWD in 1983 (House Bill 586, 68th Legislature, Regular Session).
In 1963, the State Parks Board and the Game and Fish Commission were merged to form the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife (House Bill 21, 58th Legislature, Regular Session). In 1967, the Historic Structures and Sites Act was passed by the 60th Legislature, House Bill 58, Regular Session, charging the Parks and Wildlife Department with stewardship of the state's cultural heritage sites. In 1983, the Legislature passed the 1983 Wildlife Conservation Act (Senate Bill 94, 68th Legislature, Regular Session), which gave the agency the authority to manage fish and wildlife resources in all Texas counties. Prior to this act county commissioner courts set game and fish laws in many counties, and other counties had veto power over Department regulations. In 1985, the legislature granted the agency authority over shrimp and oysters (Senate Bill 609, 69th Legislature, Regular Session).
The Coastal Fisheries Division manages the marine fishery resources of Texas' four million acres of saltwater, including the bays and estuaries and out to nine nautical miles in the Gulf of Mexico. Management strategies are designed to sustain fisheries harvest at levels necessary to ensure replenishable stocks of important species and provide balanced food webs within the marine ecosystems. The division conducts monitoring programs year round to gather technical data to assess population levels and develop fishing regulations. The division operates three hatchery facilities to enhance populations of several species of game fish, through increasing abundance of the fish and offsetting impacts of natural catastrophes. The Coastal Fisheries division is advised and guided by the recommendations of the Artificial Reef Advisory Committee, the Oyster Advisory Committee, and the Shrimp Advisory Committee. Over the years committee members consisted of representatives from various groups, including the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Gulf Coast Fisherman's Environmental Defense Fund, the Attorney General's Office, the Texas Shrimp Association, the Texas General Land Office, and the West Gulf Maritime Association.
The Coastal Fisheries Division also operates the Artificial Reef Program. In 1989, the Texas Legislature directed the TPWD to develop the artificial reef potential of Texas (Senate Bill 5, 71st Legislature, Regular Session). The Texas Artificial Reef Plan was adopted in 1990, creating the Artificial Reef Program. The basic activity of the program is to acquire surplus ships, barges, oil rigs, and other material that is then deposited on the sea floor to form artificial reefs. These reefs increase the diversity of marine organisms at those locations. The program oversees the development of three types of artificial reefs: Rigs-to-Reefs, Near-Shore/Shallow Reefs, and Ships-to-Reefs, which are funded by the Texas Artificial Reef Fund. An advisory committee was formed in 1990 to aid the program in fulfilling its obligations to the state in building reefs that are in the best interest of the citizens of Texas. The Artificial Reef Program Advisory Committee is a 10 member panel appointed by the TPW Commissioners. According to the Parks and Wildlife Code (Section 89.021), the committee members represent the interests of the following groups: salt water sport fishing, offshore oil and gas producers, Texas tourism industry, the General Land Office, the Texas university system, environmental groups, a shrimp organization, a diving club, and the Attorney General's Office. The Artificial Reed Program is guided by both the Texas Artificial Reef Plan and the Artificial Reef Advisory committee's recommendations.
(Sources: Enabling legislation numerous years; V.T.C.A., Parks and Wildlife Code, Title 2; Guide to Texas State Agencies, various editions; Texas Parks and Wildlife web site ( http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/, accessed September 9, 2006); and from information found in Texas Parks and Wildlife records.)
The Coastal Fisheries Division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department manages the marine fishery resources of Texas' four million acres of saltwater, including the bays and estuaries and out to nine nautical miles in the Gulf of Mexico. The Coastal Fisheries Division also operates the Artificial Reef Program, which began in 1990 and is responsible for acquiring materials for and overseeing the building of Texas' artificial reefs to help increase the diversity of marine organisms. The Coastal Fisheries Division is advised and guided by the recommendations of the Artificial Reef Advisory Committee, the Oyster Advisory Committee, and the Shrimp Advisory Committee. Over the years committee members consisted of representatives from various groups, including the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Gulf Coast Fisherman's Environmental Defense Fund, the Attorney General's Office, the Texas Shrimp Association, the Texas General Land Office, and the West Gulf Maritime Association. These records cover the committees' administrative and organizational activities and operations, discussions about the Coastal Fisheries Division's research and findings, and their recommendations. Types of records include committee minutes, committee meeting support documentation in the forms of reports and studies, legal deeds of donation and permits, legislative information pertaining to government bills, attorney general opinions, accounts of public hearings, a few publications, and administrative correspondence of the Artificial Reef Program. The records date 1951-1999, bulk 1980-1999.
The minutes cover financial, legal, and environmental issues the committees faced in regards to Texas marine and fishery regulations and the Texas Artificial Reef Plan. Some of the minutes are also available on microfilm. The Advisory committee support documentation series covers the Coastal Fisheries Division's and other wildlife and marine organizations' research and findings, and contains information that supported and informed committees' recommendations. Topics discussed in these records include: open seasons for shrimp, marine and fishing regulations, pollution and safety concerns, licenses, biological and environmental assessments, public response to Texas fishing and saltwater regulations, and the planning and cost of artificial reef sites and materials. Types of records include reports and studies, maps, research notes, questionnaires, legal deeds of donation and permits, legislative information pertaining to government bills, attorney general opinions, accounts of public hearings, and a few publications. The Artificial Reef Program administrative correspondence includes correspondence and print outs of emails and faxes relating to the Artificial Reef Program. The correspondence, primarily to Artificial Reef Advisory Committee members, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, and the Texas Shrimp Association from the Artificial Reef Coordinator, covers donations from oil companies of rigs, public hearings and public input regarding proposed artificial reefs, and committee members' responses and concerns over administrative and operational matters in constructing and managing Texas' artificial reefs.
This series was removed from the overall TPWD finding aid due to the electronic file size limitations imposed by the online finding aid web site (TARO). If you are reading this electronically, click on the following link to access the overall finding aid, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department records. If you are reading this in paper in the Archives search room, the finding aid, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department records, is found in the first divider within the same binder.
To prepare this inventory, the described materials were cursorily reviewed to delineate series, to confirm the accuracy of contents lists, to provide an estimate of dates covered, and to determine record types.
Restrictions on Access
Because of the possibility that portions of these records fall under Public Information Act exceptions including, but not limited to, home addresses or telephone numbers of advisory committee members or agency staff (V.T.C.A., Government Code, Section 552.117 or Section 552.1175); and email addresses (V.T.C.A., Government Code, Section 552.137); an archivist must review the administrative correspondence of the Artificial Reef Program before the records can be accessed for research. The records may be requested for research under the provisions of the Public Information Act (V.T.C.A., Government Code, Chapter 552). The researcher may request an interview with an archivist or submit a request by mail (Texas State Library and Archives Commission, P. O. Box 12927, Austin, TX 78711), fax (512-463-5436), email (Dir_Lib@tsl.state.tx.us), or see our web page (http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/agency/customer/pia.html). Include enough description and detail about the information requested to enable the archivist to accurately identify and locate the information. If our review reveals information that may be excepted by the Public Information Act, we are obligated to seek an open records decision from the Attorney General on whether the records can be released. The Public Information Act allows the Archives ten working days after receiving a request to make this determination. The Attorney General has 45 working days to render a decision. Alternately, the Archives can inform you of the nature of the potentially excepted information and if you agree, that information can be redacted or removed and you can access the remainder of the records.
Restrictions on Use
Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted and may be freely used in any way. State records also include materials received by, not created by, state agencies. Copyright remains with the creator. The researcher is responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).
Microfilm readers are available for use in Room 110 or Room 300 of the Library and Archives building. Monday through Friday, 8-5.
Most of the maps and plans and specifications are too large to photocopy.
(Identify the item and cite the series), Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Coastal Fisheries Division records. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession number: 2000/150
These records were transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on May 10, 2000.
Abbie Weiser, August 2006
The minutes, meeting supporting documentation, and administrative correspondence files were appraised by the State Archives staff as archival on October 18, 1999 as part of an agency-wide appraisal of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. For more information about the appraisal of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's records, see the appraisal report done by State Archives staff on file in the search room of the Archives and Information Services Division. It is not yet available online.
Microfilm of some minutes is available as described in the finding aid.
Detailed Description of the Records