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TexasHornshell_OtherInterests_Howells_Bob_KerrvilleTX_15January2024_Reel4186.mp3

Bob Howells [00:00:00] I doubt there is any state or government agency that has all the money, people, time, and equipment it needs to do everything it wants to do.

Bob Howells [00:00:10] So, you need to focus on where the greatest attention is.

Bob Howells [00:00:13] And I have no idea how many, say, in 1992, when I began, how many fishing licenses Texas sold. I would have to guess probably a couple of million. Back then, we had less than 500 commercial mussel licenses at the peak of it.

Bob Howells [00:00:32] So, obviously the greater attention is going to go to sport fisheries. It's going to go out on the coast to commercial fisheries as well (not a lot of commercial fishing in freshwater).

Bob Howells [00:00:45] But one of the other things that was happening about that period, in the late 1980s, competitive bass tournament fishing really took off, and it drove a lot of attention. Largemouth bass are the major game fish in the fresh waters of Texas.

Bob Howells [00:01:03] Well, now you have organized groups pursuing this particular fish, and they've got a lot of financing, a lot of influence, and they really didn't have a lot of, a lot of, uh, patience with us spending time and effort on anything that wasn't a black bass.

Bob Howells [00:01:22] In fact, I got involved with those in the late 1980s.

Bob Howells [00:01:25] They decided we needed to tighten up our regulations on tilapia. Two species of tilapia were legal for use in Texas, out of about 100 or so at the time.

Bob Howells [00:01:37] Just as they decided tilapia needed to be prohibited, fish farmers started raising tilapia for commercial production.

Bob Howells [00:01:45] And so, we had two major groups in direct conflict with Parks and Wildlife in the middle. And it was, it was such heated developments that literally some of our biologists got death threats. And when we had a public meeting, we had to have armed game wardens and Texas Rangers there.

Bob Howells [00:02:04] It was that heated, over tilapia.

Bob Howells [00:02:09] But again, it shows just some of the influence that was afoot, and why the biologists and commissioners at the time had other interests.

Bob Howells [00:02:17] You, you can understand.