Advocacy Update October 2019

Advocacy Update October 2019

ADVOCACY UPDATE is an informational release from CCA Mississippi intended to keep members aware of current issues and activities of the state and national association. News releases will also reach members with more pressing issues that warrant action by the association and may solicit member involvement. 

MENHADEN ISSUE IN THE ATLANTIC; GULF OF MEXICO NEXT? Omega Protein, the primary menhaden industrial fishing company in the Gulf of Mexico, is at it again. As members and readers might remember from prior ADVOCACY UPDATES, the company has been pursuing certification as “sustainable” through the Marine Stewardship Council, a move CCA has opposed in both the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Now Omega Protein, the foreign-owned corporation operating in both areas, has announced it will summarily disregard the harvest cap established through a legitimate management action by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) in their Chesapeake Bay fishery. Omega Protein had committed to comply with the 51,000 mt (112,435,773 lbs) catch limit in Chesapeake Bay. Read the CCA release on this action at: https://www.joincca.org/omega-protein-breaks-the-rules-in-the-chesapeake-bay-fishing-groups-call-on-atlantic-states-marine-fisheries-commission-and-department-of-commerce-to-take-immediate-action/  A second link from Sportfishing Magazine provides additional information about Omega Protein’s move in exceeding the ASMFC quota.

https://www.sportfishingmag.com/omega-protein-exceeds-limit-keeps-harvesting/?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=email&fbclid=IwAR2CfzujwmLckXbzp3RssM9PSo2J6_GyOBa41S9br8MLc6ekXz2L2OULU4I

What does this say about Gulf of Mexico operations and specifically Mississippi waters? The current catch of menhaden in the Gulf of Mexico is virtually unmanaged. The Gulf States Marine Fishery Commission (GSMFC) has been content to focus on menhaden as a Gulf-wide stock and has no management function or jurisdiction.  As the menhaden-reduction fishery in the Atlantic states has been managed by the ASFMC, CCA Mississippi has been concerned that Omega’s fishing operations would be transferred more to the Gulf areas since only one state – Texas – imposes a catch limit (since March 2008 of 31.5 million pounds per year). 

Mississippi has no such catch limit but the Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources (MCMR) does have the authority to impose a TAC if it deems this move consistent with conservation principles. The Texas Parks and Recreation Department action in March 2008 may be a model for MCMR action. It stated the intent to provide “a precautionary ecosystem-based approach to the management of the menhaden fishery in Texas waters”.  

Please send any comments or issues for you with the menhaden fishery in Mississippi waters to govtrel@cca.ms for consideration as we move forward in our effort to conserve our marine resources.   

OPPORTUNITY TO COMMENT AND ENDORSE ADOPTION OF AMENDMENT 50 AUTHORIZING THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF MARINE RESOURCES TO MANAGE OFFSHORE REEF FISH (RED SNAPPER). CCA Mississippi recommends that members submit positive/supportive comments to NOAA on Amendment 50. If you have found state management of Red Snapper beneficial to your fishing efforts, as most anglers have, please support this amendment by submitting comments. Links (the second is direct) are provided below. Tails ‘n Scales is working; let’s keep it and MDMR management.

https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/action/amendment-50a-f-state-management-program-recreational-red-snapper?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0122-0062

MISSISSIPPI COMMISSION ON MARINE RESOURCES MEETS TUESDAY, OCTOBER 15. The agenda for this meeting has not been made available at this date but the opportunity to comment on one action from the September 17 meeting on commercial harvest of tarpon is available at https://dmr.ms.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/CMR-Presentations-ALL-20190917.pdf  The MCMR set a no-take provision that will augment recreational regulations that have recently been put in effect. Please take the opportunity to comment since the deadline is October 14. In addition to this action, the September meeting produced a revised criminal penalties matrix for violations and the MCMR reluctantly had to decide, based on the assessment of Mississippi’s oyster reefs, that 2019-2020 would necessitate no harvest of oysters. At the request of commercial fishermen, MCMR is considering opening a commercial shark fishery. The details of staff presentations at the September 17 meeting are available at https://dmr.ms.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/CMR-Presentations-ALL-20190917.pdf .   

CCA MISSISSIPPI LOSES FRIEND FROM MEDIA WORLD. Ronnie Blackwell may be a name that is not familiar to many CCA members since he has been out of the public eye for some years. He earlier announced to his friends that he was discontinuing his SunHerald column due to medical limitations (Alzheimer’s Disease) and left this life on August 8th (published September 15).  Ronnie was a teacher at USM but more important to marine conservation was an open-minded outdoors writer who explored a number of topics important to our members. The SunHerald provided the medium for his writings that was characterized as “about nature, wildlife, and birds, woven with stories of his own life and (mis)adventures.”  Ronnie would take an idea – in some cases involving menhaden – and develop a personal and readable article about the importance of menhaden in the ecosystem (broadly defined) that he so loved. Our condolences go to his wife, Dr. Lin Harper, who must be an angel to have loved and cared for Ronnie. Your readers have missed Ronnie and now that loss is permanent. CCA Mississippi has remembered Ronnie with a memorial donation to disentangleAD (www.disentangleAD.com) in his honor. Ronnie P. Blackwell, 1956-2019, Teacher and Author.

JOINCCA (www.joincca.org/membership) NEEDS YOU AS A CONSERVATION-MINDED RECREATIONAL ANGLER – JOIN TODAY.

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