Officials with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources announced Tuesday that the commercial season for Speckled Trout will not reopen Friday, June 1. There were two commercial seasons for Speckled Trout: Feb. 1 through May 31 and June 1 through Oct. 31. The limit in each season was 25,000 pounds.
The agency discovered that because of underreporting, the annual quota of 50,000 pounds exceeded timely expectations. The Office of Marine Patrol currently is investigating the underreporting, and the season is closed until further notice.
Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United, Inc. Executive Director Ryan Bradley did not seem to understand this approach. According to a press release from Bradley,
“The Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United, Inc. is concerned to recently learn about the
cancellation of the 2018 Mississippi commercial spotted sea trout season due to what officials initially
have alleged is a result of underreported fish. We would like to remind all commercial fishermen and
dealers of the importance of accurately and timely reporting all seafood sales as required by Mississippi
state law to ensure the sustainability of our marine resources for the enjoyment of all user groups.
At this time it is unclear as to the specifics or extent of these unsubstantiated allegations but we
do look forward to working the Department of Marine Resources (DMR) to improve upon the timeliness
of the trip ticket reporting system, if necessary. It should also be understood that commercial fishermen
and in-state seafood dealers are required to submit trip tickets for all seafood sales regardless of what
state the seafood is sold in and must do so by the 10thof each month for the prior 30 days transaction
history. These delays in reporting can create a lag in the system which may have resulted in an overage
of the first 25,000 pound half of the 50,000 pound total commercial spotted sea trout annual quota.
Additionally, phenomenal harvests of spotted sea trout were reported during the 2018 season
largely in part due to the opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway which pushed large schools of spotted
sea trout into Mississippi waters from Lake Pontchartrain and surrounding Louisiana waterways. Also,
the Commission on Marine Resources and DMR scientists should be applauded for the swift
revitalization of the spotted sea trout fishery as a result of changes to recreational regulations in 2017
that modified the recreational spotted sea trout size limit from 13 inches to 15 inches resulting in a
substantial decrease in the recreational harvest of spotted sea trout (2,134,558 pounds in 2016 down to
748,657 pounds in 2017 according to publically available MRIP data managed by NOAA.)
More details will be provided to this story on Friday….