The Cover Up Of The Texas American Eel – Part Three by Jason Fregia

texas american eel logoWhile helping Texas Parks and Wildlife (TP&WD) with the Southern Flounder brood stock collection for restocking of Sabine Lake for 8 years, I have been researching the Texas American Eels. I had many questions in regards with the species and its regulations pertaining to catching. Thus to be safe, I got permission from TP&WD to do research on the American Eel in Texas. In addition, I would ask about the Texas American Eel research every few years to cover myself in case of any changes in Texas Parks and Wild Code.

On February 25, 2014, Lance Robinson the Regional Director Coastal Fisheries Division at the Dickinson Laboratory in Dickinson TX., Mr. Robinson gave me the OK to catch American Eels in any quantity and size I wanted. He wrote me an email stating that, “there is currently no bag limit or minimum or size limit for eels and if I planned on using them for commercial purposes all I would need is a general commercial fishing license in order to harvest them from Texas waters”.

I could not believe what Mr.  Robinson affirmed in his email. According to him, it was legal to harvest American Eels for commercial purposes, because the American Eel was not listed on the Freshwater commercial list.

However, Mr. Robinson replied that since I was catching them below the Saltwater Line they fell into the Saltwater Regulations and Saltwater Regulations allowed for a broader harvest of species. After so many years of research, I could start making money and bring this industry to the Citizens of Texas. I was catching adults for spawning research and was only researching the Glass Eels in Saltwater trying to figure out what was best to feed them and to figure out other problems with the Larval to the Glass Eel stage.

March 24 2014, I contacted Mr. Robinson to inform him that I had located large quantities of American Glass Eels. Mr. Robinson then sent an email to a person named Mark Webb an Inland Fisheries Biologist regarding the location of the Glass Eels. However, I never heard anything from Mr. Webb. In the following days, Mr. Robinson asked me if I could collect some samples for Texas Parks and Wildlife. Subsequently I replied to him that I can provide anything he needed or wanted. “I’m always here to help”. I asked if Mr. Robinson knew how to get a Certificate of Origin and Certificate of Health.  Then, Mr. Robinson replied he did not know what I was talking about, and asked me why I would want these Certificates. I replied back to him that with these certificates I could prove that the Eels really came from Texas. No one from Texas Parks and Wildlife seem to take me seriously that I had proof of the American Eel in Texas waters.

On March 26, 2014 I contacted Mr. Robinson to let him know I had his samples ready and on April 13 2014, Jerry a biologist at the Port Arthur facility sent Linda by to pick up the samples. I gave her two live six-inch elvers and five three-inch live American Glass Eels for identification and small bottle of dead ones in alcohol. Lance Robinson Regional Director Coastal Fisheries Division at the Dickinson Laboratory in Dickinson TX wrote me an email stating, “It would make a good thesis or research paper but the Texas American eel was rarely seen or ever caught in Texas Parks and Wildlife sampling”. The sampling gear used by TP&WD was not setup to catch Eels that is why they rarely catch any. Mr. Robinson and I had been talking and working together for about a year at this time on different permits. [1]

On April 14, 2014, I called NOAA if they could come to and look at samples of American Glass Eels I had collected from the wild. I wanted to get a Certificate of Origin and Certificate of Health as a way to prove the American Eel existed in Texas. The NOAA Representative showed up on April 16, 2014.He could not believe his eyes as he confirmed the samples were the American Eel and he said this would be a great thing for Texas. NOAA gave me both certificates I needed.

The following week I prepared a few more samples for people who could also identify American Glass Eels. I wanted as much confirmation that this was in fact Texas American Glass Eel. All of my samples were confirmed it was indeed the American Eel. They were verified as the species everyone was amazed that the Eels came from Texas.

On May 13, 2014, I emailed Mr. Robinson about the samples I sent for identification. Mr. Robinson replied “that the biologists had looked at the Eel samples that I had provided and they were not the American Eel. Mr. Robinson stated that the samples I sent were not American Glass Eels rather they were a species of “Shrimp Eel (Ophichthus Gomesi) or speckled worm eel (Myrophis Punctatus) and the American Eel did not possess a true Caudal Fin “or Tail Fin.” I couldn’t believe they were lying to me on the species identity, whereas, three other people and NOAA had all confirmed that it was the American Glass Eel. All of the samples were collected from the same group and the Shrimp Eel species only lives in Saltwater. Speckled worm eels only go as far as brackish water. Shrimp Eels, Speckled worm eels do not have Caudal Fins, and every Glass Eel I had in the tanks with freshwater all had Caudal Fins

On May 15 2014, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Warden started calling and harassing me wanting to come to my house and see if I had any American Eels in my possession. Warden Mike Boone claimed that there was “No means or No methods to catch the American Eel in Texas legally. “Which was a false statement by Warden Boone. I am familiar with Mike Boone because this Game Warden is known for being a bully and corrupt here in Hardin County. After cussing and threatening me with an investigation, he hung up the phone and I began to wonder what was going on.
I figured that was the end of it (I was so wrong it was just the beginning) I carried on with my research. I later found the Federal Environmental Impact Report on the Neches River Saltwater Barrier that Texas Parks and Wildlife claiming the American Eel hasn’t existed in that Texas River since the 1950’s. [ 2]

On July 7 ,2015 I found out about American Eel research going on in Louisiana by Louisiana Fish and Game from a guy that later turned out to be a spy for Texas Parks and Wildlife. I immediately contacted Robbie Maxwell who claimed to be the Biologist doing American Eel research. We had an hour-long conversation on the American Eel in Louisiana and how it was legal to commercially harvest it there in Louisiana (which I already knew was legal in Louisiana). The next day I send Robbie a few emails of videos and pictures of American Eels in the Wild and other research that I had been doing. A day after I received an email from Robbie that was not supposed to be addressed to me. Robbie was sending the email to a person named Ben Labay a Biologist in the University of Texas in Austin.  Below is the exact email I received:

I just got off the phone with Jason out by Beaumont. He is sitting on a wealth of information about eels, and is doing some awesome work with them. He’s bred them in captivity, and has even had a spawning with no artificial hormones. I’m meeting with him in a couple of days, and I wanted to get you in the loop. Check out the pictures and videos.
Robby Maxwell
Fisheries Biologist
Inland Fisheries Division
LA Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries

I thought it would be great that I could get some help. I went ahead and sent Ben Labay even more information and videos. Since Robbie said, he was looking forward to discussing what I knew about the Texas American Eel. This could help me bring the information to the State Comp Controller [3]. I was very willing to share any knowledge and findings I had got during my research. However, Mr. Labay never replied or contacted me after I sent the information.

In August of 2015, I contacted a group out of California thinking I could find help there with the Fish right away problem. I hired a lawyer that was working for this group to help me bring the Texas American Eel populations and the falsifying of the Federal Environmental Impact Reports to the public attention. In September 2015, the lawyer asked me to catch an adult American Eel and send it to a Professor for identification. I complied with the lawyer’s request, I sent sample to the Professor and on September 9th 2015 all I got was this email with the lawyer involved:

Dear Jason,
The eel arrived today. I discussed it with a couple of eel expert colleagues, and we all agree that it is an American eel. Eels have been known in Texas rivers since at least the 1850s. In fact, there are still numerous reports of fishermen encountering them, from what I can tell by a little internet searching. And I do find it odd that you say below that “Up to now, Texas has been unwilling to even admit the existence of these populations” I hope this is helpful.
Best wishes,
Once again, proofed that the American Eel exists here in Texas. On January 20 2016, I again contacted the Professor about identifying some American Glass Eel samples I have collected. But the Professor suggested that I contact a Biologist named Dean A Hendrickson because he would be better than her on identifying Glass Eels and he is in Austin TX.
My conversation with Dean can be read below:
On Jan 21, 2016, at 10:07 PM, Dean Hendrickson
Thanks for sharing the videos and paper with me. Very interesting. I’d be happy to help you identify Texas glass eels. Please send samples to my address below.
Thanks again, Dean
Thanks Dean
That be big help on the next paper about migration here in Texas and Louisiana
I’ll ship out Monday morning the frozen sample only 6 fry
Thanks, Jason
On Jan 26, 2016, at 10:07 PM, Dean Hendrickson
Unfortunately, both Adam and I are tied up all day Friday with prior commitments to several different meetings on another satellite campus and on main campus. There should, however, be someone at the Collection all day Friday to receive the package and get it into the freezer. Let me know when you expect to come by and I’ll try to assure someone is here to receive it.
Thanks again, Dean
January 26, 2016 at 4:17:58 PM CST
Dean Hendrickson
Glass Eels samples
That’s OK I wanted to meet you
Thanks anyway
My conversation with Mr. Hendrickson took place on January of 2016 and not once did he ever mention anything about the funded research going on. then on March 18, 2016 I got an email from a member about these following websites:
American Eel in Texas – what we do, don’t, and need to, know [4]
Then on March 20, 2016 I get and email from a member about this website [5]
I checked out both websites and I couldn’t believe what I was reading because Robbie Maxwell, Ben Labay and Dean Hendrickson were all part of these websites about the research into the Texas American Eel funded by Texas Parks and Wildlife. The website says, “That to date there are no known observations of American Glass Eels in Texas”. They are also asking for help with the collection and reports of Eels in Texas. Not one of these three people have ever asked me to help or offer anything; they did not even acknowledge the data that was sent to all of them by Texas American Eel Association. They did not even contact me about what more I might know; The reason they don’t want to give Texas American Eel Association the credit or admit the Eel has already been here since 1850’s. Texas American Eel Association has got Texas Parks and Wildlife covering their back now, but this is just more propaganda.
This is a waste of tax payer’s money; one reason is the University of Texas is 350 miles from the closest place we have located American Glass Eels. What I think is the funniest and most idiotic is they are asking for people to help that target eels “but there’s no means or methods to catch the American Eel in Texas according to Warden Boone”!
I sent every one of them emails with videos and invitation that I could take anyone of them, and show them millions of Glass Eels moving North but they will have to ask me, and get out of their comfortable office, give up all the credit and get sweaty or be cold.
My group and I took on the idea and accomplished it with sweat, mosquito bites in freezing temperatures and hard work. Something these guys have no clue of, the way these guys want to do it the Texas American Eel will remain covered up forever which is what the plan really is. They already have all the proof they need from Texas American Eel Association. If they really wanted people to know, they would have the Texas American Eel Association video’s and pictures up on their web page that were sent to all three of them and the published papers months ago.
People in Texas don’t even know what to look for while fishing to make an observation to report. The work has been done by us, but where is our credit. I sent one of the other biologist involved in these websites, the same videos, pictures and papers two days ago so let’s see if she will reply. but I’m not going to hold my breath.
And the cover up continues!!!!!