Thank you CCA and thank you CMR commissioners Daniels and Havard !
Finally something good has happened that I was personally lobbying for (this makes once). The CMR has acted to eliminate “haul seines”. Of course I am sure almost no one knows what I’m talking about because you are all thinking “how does this affect fishing for hatchery trout in tailwaters?”, so let me give you this scenario: I am in the marsh in the Grand Bay NERR poling my kayak to a favorite flat to stalk some redfish when out of nowhere comes a boat which enters the flat and begins making a high speed circle in it. I can see buoys rolling out of the back of the boat. The purpose of the buoys is to support the gill net they are attached to. Yes, a gill net. You thought they were against the law right? Nope, because in this instance they named them something else to beat the law and the CMR was asleep or part and party. They hauled the nets in (making them haul seines, not “gill nets”, clever). Do you think I fished the flat? No, cuz everything in it pretty much got caught, including redfish because MS IS THE ONLY STATE THAT ALLOWS COMMERCIAL REDFISHING. Not to mention the high speed boat churning up the bottom, leaving prop scars and chewing up the grass which the net helped to destroy as well, which are battles for another day. So with that preface, here is the article from the CCA newsletter:
Mississippi Commission Acts to Eliminate Gill Net Scam
Commissioners Close Loophole Allowing “Haul Seines” to be Used as Entangling Gear
At the Commission on Marine Resources (CMR) meeting held Tuesday, November 27, 2018, Commissioners Ronnie Daniels and Mark Havard led the charge to put a stop to gill netting in Mississippi waters. At issue was a loophole that is a product of hazy regulations allowing commercial fishermen to use “haul seines” as gill nets in an illegal manner. Over the few years, outraged recreational anglers have alerted authorities to the illegal gill net gear only to be told that, technically, the nets were being defined as “haul seines” even though they were clearly being used as gill nets.
“That was a problem because the term ‘haul seine’ appears nowhere in CMR Regulations or Mississippi state statutes so it is basically completely undefined from a legal standpoint. It clearly didn’t pass the common-sense test, but until the Commission addressed it there was nothing law enforcement could do,” said F. J. Eicke, Chairman of the Government Relations Committee. “No matter what they were called, they were being used exactly like gill nets so we really needed the Commission to clear up the matter, and we applaud them for tackling the issue head on.”
Commissioner Daniels provided an outstanding presentation that left little doubt that the so-called “haul seines” were being used as gill nets. With the help of information provided to him by CCA Mississippi and other sources, he was able to show that the nets were, in fact, being used as entanglement devices in violation of the law. After Daniels’ presentation, CMR voted unanimously to remove the tags issued by the Department of Marine Resources. These tags were being used as cover by netters to use “haul seines” to illegally harvest fish. By removing the tags, non-compliant netters can no longer hide behind the appearance of legality.
The successful conclusion of the issue is a win for anglers, and CCA Mississippi commends Commissioners Daniels and Havard for their hard work and dedication to clear up the matter. However, CCA Mississippi will closely monitor the Gear Type Task Force created by the Commission and has requested membership on that task force as it addresses the issue of defining nets and other issues.
“We are proud to have played a role in eliminating the confusion over haul seines, but there are plenty of other issues we need to keep an eye on,” said Tommy Elkins, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “CCA Mississippi remains dedicated to protecting our vital marine resources for future generations to share and enjoy.”