Outdoors

CCA Mississippi calls for action on speckled trout

Evan Mitchell, 4, of Loong Beach picks up one of the leading speckled trouts on display at the Sprayberry-Schankin Memorial Speckled Trout tournament at Jones Park in Gulfport on May 22.
Evan Mitchell, 4, of Loong Beach picks up one of the leading speckled trouts on display at the Sprayberry-Schankin Memorial Speckled Trout tournament at Jones Park in Gulfport on May 22. JcFitzhugh@sunherald.com

The Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources will have a meeting about the speckled trout assessment and discuss new regulations at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Bolton Building in Biloxi.

CCA Mississippi will present its position statement at the meeting, which recreational anglers are expected to attend.

Eight years ago, the minimum size limit for speckled trout was placed at 13 inches. The Mississippi Chapter of Coastal Conservation Association requests the Commission on Marine Resources take the necessary steps to put the fishery back on solid footing.

“Eight years ago, we were very much opposed when managers took an awful risky position with its trout regulations and now that unfortunate decision has come home to roost,” CCA Mississippi Government Relations Committee chairman F.J. Eicke said. “We’ve taken a giant step backwards with a resource that is cherished by anglers, but now we have an opportunity to work with the states to set things right and we shouldn’t waste any more time.”

A stock assessment conducted by the state earlier this year has documented that the Percent Spawning Potential Ratio, a metric scientists use to define available stock. The SPR dipped around 10 percent, half its size before the minimum size decrease.

“At 13 inches, it is clear that too many fish are being caught and kept before they have a chance to spawn even once. If you remove fish before they can spawn, catastrophic declines are inevitable,” said Eicke. “Fortunately, trout can rebuild relatively quickly if state managers will put the proper conservation measures back in place.

“They dug quite a hole for trout that we have to climb out of now, so tools like increasing the minimum size or decreasing the bag limit should all be on the table.”

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