The $50M question: Can the lake take it?
Originally Posted by Me
I just watched the Espn Bass Pro tour on Lake Amistad, Texas right on the U.S. - Mexico border. No doubt that is the bass capitol of the world. Every fish they pulled out was huge. i thought they were stripers at first.
By Karen Gleason
Del Rio News-Herald Published December 14, 2006
With increased pressure on Lake Amistad from record numbers of fishing tournaments, park administrators say they want to make sure they don’t kill the goose – or in this case, the fish – that lays the golden eggs.
“We’re starting to become a little concerned about the sustainability of the fishery,” Alan Cox, Amistad National Recreation Area (ANRA) superintendent, told county commissioners court Monday.
“And all indications are that this will be one of the busiest years in the history of the park,” Cox said.
The previous record year for visitors, he said, was 1994, when the ANRA logged a total of 1,591,903 visitors.
He said through the end of November, the number of visitors to the ANRA has come within 40,000 of the 1994 record “and at some point in December, we’re going to exceed that 1.591 million number.”
Cox told the court the number of bass tournaments on the lake has increased as well. He said the lake hosts an average of 150 bass tournaments a year, but in 2006, that number rocketed to 190 tournaments
“We already have 14 major tournaments booked in 2007, and four or five of those tournaments will be televised nationally,” Cox told the court.
Cox said the park is studying alternative methods of releasing tournament-caught fish after a joint study between the National Park Service and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department earlier this year found a high mortality rate among fish released back to the lake through a waterslide-type chute.
The study found a delayed mortality rate of 64 percent in the chute-released fish, twice that of fish carried back to the lake and released by hand.
“We want to make very sure we keep that economic engine healthful,” Cox said.
Commissioner Precinct 1 Ramiro Ramon wanted to know what alternative release methods the park is studying.
“We’re looking at maybe a permanent facility, with tanks, or a live-release boat,” Cox replied.
“Is there a chance this lake could be over-fished?” County Judge Mike L. Fernandez asked.
“That’s always a possibility,” Cox said.
Commissioner Precinct 2 Roy Musquiz asked Cox if the lake is regularly restocked.
Cox said the National Park Service works in conjunction with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to restock the lake.
He said there is some controversy about restocking striped bass fingerlings in the lake and that the park is planning a public meeting on the issue sometime in January.
Commissioner Precinct 3 Beau Nettleton asked about the economic impact that visitors to the park have on the community.
Cox said the most recent study on the ANRA’s economic impact is about three years old and at that time, the park was found to contribute about $40 million a year to the county economy.
“It’s probably bumping $50 million a year or more now,” Cox said.
Cox told the Del Rio News-Herald park administrators also are planning a 2007 study of the economic impact of fishing tournaments on the lake.
Fernandez asked Cox if the park anticipated an increase in the number of fishing tournaments held on the lake next year.
“Yes, and that increase is the direct result of tournaments that are televised nationally. We know that based on inquiries that come in to the park,” Cox said.