COMMISSION ON MARINE RESOURCES MEETING, NOVEMBER 27, 2018: The CMR meeting on Tuesday, November 27, 2018, was long (9:00 – 1:30) and addressed an agenda that included important issues to CCA members. Members should be aware that aspects of the proceedings of the CMR meetings are available on the Department of Marine Resources website, www.dmr.ms.gov, with the agenda (prior to the meeting), the presentation materials (listed as PDF, posted within a week after the meeting), and the minutes (posted after approval at the next CMR meeting) available at http://dmr.ms.gov/index.php/dmr-information/commission .
CCA MISSISSIPPI REQUESTS CHANGE TO CMR MEETING TIME: CCA Mississippi’s GRC attends CMR meetings and plans to advise members of actions of the CMR soon after the meeting each month. For the information of members, the CMR Administrative Handbook presently states that meetings are to be on the Third Tuesday of each month at 9:00 AM. Meetings (such as this one) have been moved from that date in the month and the location (specified as the Bolton Building in Biloxi/DMR headquarters) has also been moved to Hancock and Jackson County locations at least once each year. CCA Mississippi is formally requesting the Commission to consider a change in time to later in the day to accommodate attendance by more of our members who are employed and unable to attend CMR meetings. We have requested that this be an agenda item open to statements by the Executive Director and Commissioners as well as the public (e.g. our members) who should voice their opinion as Public Comment when the item appears as an agenda item.
Haul Seine Information Update – Commissioner Ronnie Daniels. Commissioner Daniels reviewed the haul seine issue and initially requested that these devices be designated as “…like contrivances,…” under the regulations that apply to use of nets as a gear type. His presentation included a video clearly showing the use of a net tagged and used as a “haul seine” gilling fish as they were brought to the boat and not being used in any way consistent with a seine. After a lengthy discussion involving the commissioners, fisheries staff, and Marine Patrol, and statements by commercial fishermen that were contentious at times, the decision was made to take two actions. On a unanimous vote (5 – 0), the Commission adopted a resolution that has now been announced (http://dmr.ms.gov/index.php/news-a-events/recent-news/1295-18-71-cws ) that removes the tags and placards that have been issued by DMR from all such nets. This will allow Marine Patrol officers to monitor the use of nets based on functioning and to cite any commercial fishermen using a net to gill fish in a manner inconsistent with the use of a seine. The second action establishes a Gear Type Task Force that is to address the issue of defining nets and possibly other issues. The task force includes two commissioners (Guess and Bosarge) and will include members of the fisheries staff, staff from other agencies, and the public. CCA Mississippi has formally requested that the Executive Director include at least one of our members on this task force. CCA Mississippi has voiced our concerns with the issue of commercial nets in our waters over the past years and is prepared to offer definitional measures that would, we believe, resolve this issue. For those who are unaware, CCA has been criticized as fostering positions that are anti-commercial. Our concern has been that the use of certain nets is detrimental to marine resources and we have opposed such gear. Commercial finfishing in Mississippi waters is managed by quotas on designated species that have been violated recently in the case of Spotted Seatrout. Our members should be aware that representatives of the commercial sector have stated that the current allocations should be changed. CCA Mississippi seeks to represent the interests of recreational anglers while we focus on the status of our marine resources and how these resources are allocated.
2018 Mississippi Spotted Seatrout Stock Assessment Annual Update – Matt Hill: This annual update presented to the CMR follows the original stock assessment in 2016 that showed our Spotted Seatrout in need of regulation change to restore the population. The Commission adopted a target SPR* (Spawning Potential Ratio) of 20 percent (the SPR% at that time was single digit) and a minimum size of 15”. The Spotted Seatrout stock had been stable prior to 2008 at a minimum size of 14” but reducing the minimum size to 13” had created this problem. With the current status revealed by this peer reviewed stock assessment, DMR and GCRL staff recommended setting 15 inches to reach an SPR of 20 percent in a reasonable time frame. CCA Mississippi supported this position in our statements to the CMR. Hill’s presentation shows progress toward this goal with recommendations from staff that we stay the course. What is clear is that data indicates recreational fishing effort is a factor and fisheries staff has been tasked with bringing information back at a subsequent meeting for consideration by the commissioners.
* Spawning Potential Ratio (SPR) is defined as the proportion of the unfished reproductive potential left at any given level of fishing pressure. SPR is commonly used to set target and limit reference points for fisheries, and, in general, it is accepted that SPR of 30-40% is indicates little risk for a large range of species.
Seagrasses (Cat Island) – Paul Mickle: Dr. Mickle, Chief Scientific Officer for DMR, presented information on seagrasses from the published literature and some specific to Mississippi waters. Members interested in the content of this presentation should go to http://dmr.ms.gov/index.php/dmr-information/commission when the PDF is available and review the slides Dr. Mickle presented. Seagrasses around the barrier islands under Gulf Islands National Seashore authority are decreasing (as assessed by the federal government) while seagrasses around Cat Island are increasing on three of the four sides of the island. We thus have seagrasses that we should protect and this led the Commission to support a monitoring program as a first step in deciding what actions might be taken in the future.
This ADVOCACY UPDATE only addresses some of the actions of the CMR at the November 27, 2018 meeting. Members hopefully have become aware of the complexity of issues and the need to stay knowledgeable and involved with CCA. Please renew or extend your membership so you are an ACTIVE MEMBER and get involved with your chapter.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR MEMBERSHIP IN CCA AND FOR YOUR SUPPORT OF OUR MARINE RESOURCES AND RECREATIONAL ANGLING