by Hunter Dawkins

Even though no action took place, numerous commercial fisherman flooded public comments for the Commission of Marine Resources (CMR) monthly meeting. The Department of Marine Resources (DMR) Office of Fisheries Director Joe Jewell spoke about the proposed update for the one-mile commercial finfish net exclusion zone around Cat Island and the upcoming public hearing set for this plan September 5.

Tommy O’Brian, Cicely Tyson, and Martin Young all brought forward their case of being commercial fishermen who actively use haul seines to catch and there was no scientific evidence for this proposal. O’Brian expressed the commission was “discriminating like the Biloxi waders” in the 1960’s when the police department made the African-Americans leave the beach. Young stated through deep emotions the commissiom was adopting the agenda of the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), rather than making their own decisions.

The Diamondhead Property Owners Association (POA) was unanimously granted a five year extension to the existing maintenance dredging permit. This was requested to DMR’s Office of Coastal Resources Management who brought the finished application to the commission.

Commissioner Richard Gollott returned from the grave with a close call to cancer the last six months and ran for the chair as the officers elections occured, but there was a tie once again Jolyene Trapani of Bay St. Louis was absent from the meeting. Due to her expired term, Governor Phil Bryant has to appoint her back or another to the commission. However, the appointment is only ratified through the State Senate.

The special session agenda was released Tuesday because the Legislature will convene Thursday. If this item is not listed, the commission will be left with four votes until January’s regular session. In other actions, the office of marine fisheries adopted the spotted seatrout endorsement and the hand dredge basket specifications for oysters.

Finally, The state Commission on Marine Resources on Tuesday certified three state fishing records.