Letters to the Editor

Near-shore menhaden fishing in Mississippi needs tighter regulation

The dead fish on the beaches in the west Gulfport and Long Beach areas magically appeared on Wednesday.

In what is clearly a break in logic, DMR Spokesperson Melissa Scallan had to pass this off as a natural event when I and others observed the menhaden boats working this exact area that day and apparently they had been for a few days before.

Where menhaden schools are located by aircraft spotters, Here come the boats.

A tourist brought up another of the list of objections advocates have with the practices of the menhaden reduction fleet operating close to our shores, tourism.

A comment from another observer I talked to even witnessed slicks (a typical result of any net set for menhaden) and that may ultimately be more of a tourism issue than fish kills since they are more frequent.

Casinos and other tourist-dependent businesses -- take note.

Regulation of the menhaden boats is a major problem -- mainly because any regulation that might reasonably be considered is fought aggressively by Omega Protein.

We won the legislative battle to not allow redfish as bycatch by these boats and then lost a minimal move requested by the Jackson County Board of Supervisors to set a one-mile limit (Hancock and Harrison already have such a limit) in an unwarranted denial by the Commission on Marine Resources.

The Coastal Conservation Association Mississippi hopes that the public stays aware, informed, and responsive to this issue as we move into the prime season for menhaden in our near-shore waters since the boats will follow.


Chairman, Government Relations Committee

Coastal Conservation Association Mississippi