by Hunter Dawkins

Tuesday morning’s, monthly Commission of Marine Resources (CMR) was full of emotions to say the least.  After new Commissioner Ronnie Daniels of Pass Christian took his oath for his first session, CMR strolled through the agenda early before hitting the rocks near the end.

Mississippi’s Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) Office of Marine Fisheries Director Joe Jewell presented a motion adopted by the CMR on June 19th to establish a one-mile commercial net exclusionary zone around Cat Island.  Commissioner Mark Havard originally made the motion in concern for haul seines’ destroying grasslands.  Harvard changed his mind about the reason, but still kept the notice of intent to begin the new regulation.

With only three commissioner present, due to Richard Gollott being in Houston for cancer treatment and Jolyene Trapani’s of Bay St. Louis’ term expiring June 30, CMR passed the ban of commercial net within the exclusionary zone of Cat Island from May to September on a 2-1.

Dissenting, Chairman Steve Bosarge stated this action was “discrimination” versus commercial fisherman and the voting for this ban was because of a “political issue.”  MDMR’s Executive Director General Joe Spraggins said the commission “needs to find a happy median” and this method was “making a bad issue for South Mississippi.”  Mississippi Commercial Fishermen United Director Ryan Bradley asked Havard why was there a reason for this.  Bradley followed with expressing that the commission was going down on a rough road by banning gear from commercial fisherman where litigation is becoming a possibility.  According to Bradley, this litigation would cost “the state and taxpayers money.”

Director of the Fin Fish Bureau for MDMR, Matt Hill and Jewll were both met with disgusted reactions from commercial fisherman due their presentations about endorsements for Spotted Sea Trout & Finfish net.  Hal Lusk of Pass Christian brought forth a letter asking for the commission to oppose speckled trout regulations.  Lusk’s letter states, “There has been an increase from 14 to 15 inches for recreational trout fishing and yet we have nets catching almost the entire 50,000 pound quota in four weeks that would be laying eggs.  There is no was that the Hook and Line fisherman would come close to that number in that short of time.”

More details on Friday…