Texas legislators are set to vote Thursday to pass a bill that would let them fish on the state’s iconic Mackerel and other wild fish, as well as other species that have been threatened by habitat loss, over the past several years.
Lawmakers will vote on a bill to establish the new “Mackerel Fishery Act” after months of hearings and public comments, according to The Associated Press.
It would authorize up to 50 licensed fishermen to fish under the law, according the AP.
The Mackerell Fishery Law, which is set to become law on March 14, would give local governments the power to regulate wild-caught fish that could threaten the state wildlife, as long as it is not harming endangered species, the AP reported.
Mackerell, a common saltwater species, was originally introduced to the US from New Zealand in the early 20th century.
It has become an endangered species since it was banned in 1989.
The species has been decimated by habitat destruction, including a proposed oil and gas drilling ban in northern Texas.
The bill would give Texas communities the authority to set a minimum stocking limit for wild fish species, restrict the use of certain fishing gear and restrict the amount of bait and fish that may be harvested from certain waters.
The proposed law has generated some controversy, with lawmakers warning that the bill would create an unnecessary burden for local governments and the public, the Associated Press reported.
Critics have argued that the Mackeler Fishery Board is too focused on protecting a commercial fishery, while not focusing enough on the fish.
Texas Fish and Wildlife has already banned the use and sale of mackerel, and in 2015, the Board voted to remove the Mackelsey’s Cove, a popular fishing spot in northern New Mexico, from its list of protected fish species.
The Board is expected to announce next week whether it will appeal the decision.