Advocacy Update – January 16, 2019

Advocacy Update – January 16, 2019

COMMISSION ON MARINE RESOURCES MEETING, JANUARY 15, 2019. Those attending the CMR meeting on January 15, 2019, endured four hours of “discussion” on various motions with some outcomes that should be approved by recreational anglers. Attending this meeting were Chairman Steve Bosarge, Commissioners Mark Havard (Recreational), Ronnie Daniels (Charterboat Captains), and Natalie Guess (Environmental). Executive Director Joe Spraggins became somewhat of a referee as some issues were contentious among the commissioners. The DMR website provides the presentation materials that give detail although may not clearly show actions taken –

JAILHOUSE REEF OFF HANCOCK COUNTY RENAMED IN HONOR OF ERNIE ZIMMERMAN. Commissioner Natalie Guess, now occupying the Environmental seat previously held by longtime CCA Mississippi leader and member Ernie Zimmerman, presented a resolution to the CMR recommending that Jailhouse Reef be renamed in honor of Ernie. Without objection and with positive statements from Chairman Bosarge, DMR staff and Bay Chapter member David Wells, the resolution passed without dissent. Future charts will reflect this change as Ernie Zimmerman Reef and be a permanent memorial to the contributions Ernie made to fisheries and the marine environment – indicated on the chart that is part of the link above.

ISSUES RELATED TO MANAGEMENT USING TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH (TAC) FOR SPOTTED SEATROUT.  The success of Tails ‘n Scales in recording catch data for Red Snapper, with a universe of limited participants, has apparently engendered the assumption that some type of like system could be developed for anglers targeting Spotted Seatrout. The number of recreational license holders exceeds 80,000, fishing occurs from piers, shore, and boat, and is likely to increase. The issue is that recreational catch of Spotted Seatrout is based on MRIP (Marine Recreational Information Program, a federal program) data and has varied from well over 2 million pounds to less than 1 million, is not accepted as reliable by many scientists and is seriously debated by recreational anglers. MRIP is based on landings and one issue that was the focus of discussion at this meeting is that Mississippi landings include fish caught in Louisiana waters. Environmental factors such as the opening of the Bonne’ Carre floodgates also impact data for Mississippi catch of this and other species.

In an insightful presentation, Chief Science Officer Dr. Paul Mickle, one of the authors of the stock assessment of Spotted Seatrout that led to the setting of a target Spawning Potential Ratio (SPR) of 20% and the raising of the minimum size to 15 inches, emphasized that this action was predicated on protecting the slightly smaller trout that would be the spawning mass that would restore the population.

Catching 15 inch and larger trout is therefore not the issue and the average recreational catch is less than the bag limit of 15. DMR staff therefore have not endorsed any changes since the predicted effect is negligible. Setting a TAC (Total Allowable Catch: Chairman Bosarge contends a TAC is the preferred management tool for fisheries) is not the answer. Given current data, the TAC for Spotted Seatrout would lead to a recreational season of 201 or 204 days and experience has shown in numerous fisheries that shorter seasons lead to more pressure and excess catch. The current management plan was for a 3-5 year period, is moving the stock forward and making reasonable progress to meet the goals. The management plan has now raised the %SPR from about 7 to about 17. It is time to move on from this issue although the recreational catch data does require monitoring. Stay tuned.

GEAR TYPE TASK FORCE MEETS TUESDAY, JANUARY 22, 2019. At previous CMR meetings, a Gear Type Task Force was discussed and formed to decide on net definitions raised by “haul seines” in Mississippi waters. This Task Force will meet on Tuesday, January 22, 2019, 1:00 PM, in Room 205 at the Bolton Building and is open to anyone interested in attending. 

SHIP ISLAND CHAPTER MEETS TUESDAY, JANUARY 22, 2019, AT 5:30 pm AT THE MARTY WILSON GALLERIES, 824 E. PASS ROAD, GULFPORT. Ship Island chapter is designated as MS01 by CCA National – dating to the 1980s. President Kyle Johnson has set the next meeting and invites any CCA member, returning member or new member to gather to discuss chapter activities and ongoing fisheries issues.

GULF COUNCIL MEETS IN ORANGE BEACH, JANUARY 28 – 31. Even with the federal government shutdown, the January meeting of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will convene on Monday, January 28, 2019. For details and agenda, go to

CCA MISSISSIPPI SEEKS INTERESTED MEMBERS TO SERVE ON GOVERNMENT RELATIONS COMMITTEE. The GRC has been very active over the past months and the future promises to be more of the same. If you are interested in sharing ideas and working on issues as a member of the GRC, please send an email to