Letters to the Editor

State needs to protect fisheries, economy

What has happened in recent years is that Florida has no menhaden industry.

Alabama has only the narrow strip of water in Mobile County north of Dauphin Island to the state line with Mississippi for menhaden.

Texas has a 31 million-pound limit in its waters, which keeps Omega Protein from making a single set in Texas waters — not worth the effort from their Abbeville, Louisiana, base.

So we have Louisiana, with about half its estuaries available to the menhaden industry, and Mississippi, offering 90 percent of its estuaries to the industry.

It is my hope that our leaders will respond to a public becoming more and more aware that Mississippi needs the kind of profitable and economic-developing inshore fishery that Florida has and which is enjoyed in Texas — with healthy speckled trout and a limit of 15 inches for the smallest allowed — and the great fishing in Mobile Bay and Baldwin County.

The seasonal menhaden fishery is decimating our fish populations regardless of reports such as the recent Gulfwide assessment. We also need to see the menhaden plant in Moss Point closed so real estate won’t be depressed by the stink of fish all summer long in Pascagoula and Moss Point.

We can have a better economy if leaders will decide to get rid of Omega Protein and pursue seining in our fragile and limited waters.

Steve Shepard