by Hunter Dawkins

Towards the end of his monthly report at the Commission of Marine Resources (CMR) meeting in Biloxi on Tuesday, the executive director of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) General Joe Spraggins expressed that after discussion with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the agency would take out $1 million dollar in 2011 Bonnet Carre Spillway funds to provide some assistance for local oyster fishermen.  Spraggins asked for the commission’s authorization for the approved commercial and other oyster fishermen to be allocated these funds, which the CMR unanimously approved.

This measure will allow the MDMR the ability to distribute funds for oyster fishermen who qualify for the program as established by MDMR guidelines and approved by NOAA.

Following this action, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Public Affairs Specialist Julie Garrett spoke to CMR about capital loans due to the recent blue green algae effect in the Mississippi Sound.  Garrett stated that all small businesses that were affected should apply for these loans and the deadline is not until October 16.  The application loan could be filled out at

There are three other Business Recovery Centers on the Coast:

  • Harrison County: 842 Commerce Street in Gulfport
  • Jackson County: 2915 Canty Street in Pascagoula
  • Hancock County: 18355 Highway 603 in the Kiln

Beginning the meeting, Biloxi City Attorney and Manager of the Mississippi Sound Coalition Gerald Blessey spoke of potential federal legislation on alternatives or a Marshall Plan for opening the Bonnet Carre Spillway in the future because of the devastation caused in the seafood and marine industry.  Additionally, Blessey mentioned a need for a representative from South Mississippi on the MS River Commission.  This position is federally appointed.

Assistant Chief Kyle Wilkerson from the Office of Marine Patrol highlighted three patrol officers that helped save a duck-hunter, whose vessel went 600 yards into marshland and these deputies pulled him out of the boat successfully.

In other actions, CMR authorized the MDMR staff to continue with the current Oyster Task Force required to meet biannually unless otherwise needed and a lengthy executive session finished the meeting with deliberation on potential litigation plus personnel issues.  No action was taken.

The March meeting is scheduled for March 17 at the Hancock County Board of Supervisors meeting room in Bay St. Louis at 10am.