Jackson County

CMR denies Jackson County's request for 1-mile menhaden fishing limit

KAREN NELSON/SUN HERALD 
 
 The Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources on Tuesday 
 denied Jackson County's request to limit menhaden fishing to one mile 
 off the mainland. CMR commissioner Steve Bosarge, left, made the 
 motion. Also pictured are DMR Director Jamie Miller, center, and 
 Commissioner Richard Gollott, right.
KAREN NELSON/SUN HERALD The Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources on Tuesday denied Jackson County's request to limit menhaden fishing to one mile off the mainland. CMR commissioner Steve Bosarge, left, made the motion. Also pictured are DMR Director Jamie Miller, center, and Commissioner Richard Gollott, right.

BILOXI -- The Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources denied Jackson County's request to limit menhaden fishing to at least a mile off the county's mainland.

The vote was unanimous and came after the commission listened to arguments from both sides of the issue.

On March 7, the Jackson County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to ask the state to limit menhaden boats to 1 mile offshore. The move would have closed 22 square miles of the Sound to commercial fishing by the company Omega Protein of Moss Point.

Both the Coastal Conservation Association and Omega Protein went before the CMR.

In the final vote, it came down to science and concern for industry.

Commissioners said state law gives them leeway in making decisions on what's best for the fishing community, which means they didn't have to limit menhaden fishing just because the Board of Supervisors asked for it.

In its resolution, supervisors asked for the limit because they felt it was in the best interest of the county and in "conserving its natural resources."

The county also pointed out Harrison and Hancock counties have 1-mile limits.

However, Barry Cumbest, one of the supervisors who opposed the limit, sent a letter to the CMR reflecting his stance and supporting Omega Protein.

Joe Jewell with the DMR told commissioners the science shows the menhaden stock is not being overfished.

Commissioner Steve Bosarge, who is from Jackson County, made the motion to deny the county's resolution.

Bosarge said the CMR makes regulations based on the best science available and is charged with making regulations that "minimize the impact on fishing communities."

"I don't see a need for this," Bosarge said of the supervisors' resolution.

And he expressed concern "another industry might leave Jackson County."

He said he didn't want to see that happen.

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