The DMR has been in the news lately concerning the tendency for connected, influential people to get special treatment or special opportunities. After extensive federal and state investigations there have been turnovers of some personnel and the promise that things would change for the better.
The recent rule changes that the Commission on Marine Resources and that the DMR staff have worked on lately to put more fish in the hands of fewer people, suggest that the DMR is still looking to make marine resources more available to some and to make the resource less available to unconnected, “little” people.
Increasing the speckled trout quota so that more speckled trout are funneled into the sea food markets which are better-connected and more influential than the “little” people who go out on public piers to try to catch something or go out in boats on weekends is funneling the resource into fewer hands.
Changing the hook and line license so that those who can’t or won’t produce at least 10% of their income off the sale of fish is cutting out those struggling to live on retirements and who appreciated supplementing their income by 5% or even 9%. Leaving the hook and line rule so that anyone who is determined enough, skilled enough or desperate enough to catch hundreds of pounds of speckled trout, for example, in a single day while others are limited to 15 per person or in the case of redfish 3 per person, is seeing to it that those more favored individuals get a bigger piece of the pie than the average “little” person. If the DMR had changed, they would have fixed the bad rule that said recreational people have daily limits while the hook and line license holder can catch the entire yearly allotment of a species in a single day if a rod and reel had that capability.
And, now, the DMR has decided that those who want to gill net don’t have to have a biodegradable gill net anymore, but can put 14” square panels of untreated nylon—a very destructive and effective material for killing sea life—on each side of their cotton nets to make gill nets into trammel nets. These nets make the seven or so individuals holding current gill net licenses better able to catch a lot of fish than all the many recreational fishers using their hook and line. That seems to be a goal of DMR, give more access to few and limit all the others. Again, it sounds familiar.
And, the commission has voted to increase the quota on redfish from 35,000 lbs to 50,000 lbs because their data shows that “little” people fishing with rods and reels and limited to three fish per day per person of a certain size have managed to catch as many as 1 million pounds of redfish in 2012 while the struggling haul seiners, gill netters, seven-day-a-week hook and line fishers only caught 35,000 with no limit on how many redfish they could bring in per day except for the 18” minimum and 30” maximum length. Those tourists on those public piers sure know how to reel them in. Probably we should arrange for the Michigan or New Jersey or Tennessee tourist to meet with our hook and line commercial fishers and teach them how to fish better.
Mississippi Sierra Club
P.O. Box 1295
Gautier, MS 39553