Mississippi TIG Public Meeting
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill natural resource trustees for the Mississippi Trustee Implementation Group (MS TIG) will hold its first annual public meeting on November 15, 2016, in Biloxi, Mississippi. The MS TIG annual meeting will be held in conjunction with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality’s (MDEQ) Restoration Summit. During the Restoration Summit, representatives from the MS TIG will provide an update on the MS TIG’s restoration planning efforts and will be available to answer questions during the Restoration Summit’s open house period. The MS TIG looks forward to seeing the public at this meeting.
November 15, 2016
Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center
2350 Beach Boulevard
Biloxi, Mississippi 39531
Open house for discussion and questions 4:30pm – 8:30pm
Restoration updates 5:30pm – 6:10 pm
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CCA MISSISSIPPI OPPOSES BYCATCH ALLOWANCE OF RED DRUM BY MENHADEN PURSE SEINE BOATS
Senate Bill No. 2311 has been referred to the Senate Ports and Marine Resources Committee and proposes to allow the industrial menhaden fishery to retain forty-five (45) red drum incidentally caught in their purse seine operations. Menhaden are a critical part of the marine food chain and are forage for almost every dynamic game fish and predator species in the Gulf of Mexico. The industrial menhaden fishery uses purse seine nets; indiscriminate harvesting tools that are designed to encircle and catch entire schools of menhaden. Inevitably, these netting operations, often guided by spotter planes, retain some of the fish that prey on them, such as red drum. Although exact figures on the amount of bycatch caught by menhaden vessels is a closely guarded secret, it is believed to be considerable.
Given the secrecy cloaking the true impact of menhaden bycatch, the Mississippi Chapter of Coastal Conservation Association is opposed to any proposal to adjust regulations that would allow the industrial menhaden fishery to have a greater adverse impact on an iconic sportfish such as red drum. We urge you to reject this proposal and maintain current regulations that prohibit an industrial menhaden vessel from retaining any red drum. Since the current bycatch of red drum by the menhaden purse seine fleet is purposely withheld from the public, the effect of this proposal is unknown to the public or the legislature.
Gulf of Mexico red drum stocks have only recently recovered from overfishing. There is currently a 60,000 pound commercial quota, which is caught primarily by commercial hook and line fishermen. If this proposal is allowed to pass, that quota could be quickly caught by the fishing power of the menhaden purse seine, which numbers an estimated 12 vessels. This would inevitably cause negative impacts on those working commercial fishermen as well.
Lastly, it is our understanding a menhaden boat was cited by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources for retaining red drum and that this bill is the industry’s response to that citation. We are deeply dismayed that a large, industrial operation that proposes to be a good corporate citizen would opt not to change its operations to better conform when it is caught breaking the law, but instead expends its time and resources attempting to quickly change the law to suit its needs.
There are many questions about this proposal. The current red drum management plan has worked well for Mississippi, bringing back a stock that is critically important to coastal anglers and commercial fishermen. The current legal framework has served the state well and it is unnecessarily risky to create loopholes simply so one individual stakeholder can skirt the law. We urge you to oppose this flawed legislation.