Marine Patrol Keeps Close Eye On Shrimpers And Boaters

Hundreds of shrimpers took to South Mississippi waters today, hoping to snag a good harvest, but they weren't alone.

The Marine Patrol was also out in full force making sure boaters were playing by the rules of the water.

Saturday morning, a crew of Marine Patrol officers ventured out into the waters just north of Cat Island, keeping their eyes peeled for commercial boating violations.

They boarded a few shrimp boats to make sure they were in line with marine seafood regulations.

"We look for the size of trawls, to make sure they have the legal size trawls," said Lt. Rusty Pittman of the DMR Marine Patrol.

"We also check for licenses. To make sure they have the proper license. We check on board for boat water safety, the flares, and personal floatation devices. We also look for size limits on the fish," Lt. Pittman said.

While some violators may not welcome the inspections of the Marine Patrol, officers say many shrimpers are grateful for their watchful eye because they help keep the competition fair.

"We've had several boats that would come in and pull four trawls, and they're only allowed to pull two trawls, when they're only allowed to pull two trawls around the island. That could happen. They could pull oversized trawls, two oversized trawls instead of two trawls. That could happen. There's a number of things that could happen if were weren't out here," Lt. Pittman said.

These officers are known as the highway patrol of state waters. They work around-the-clock to to inspect both commercial and recreational boats.

"We check for boat water safety, and we check with compliance with fish regulations," Lt. Pittman said.

On Saturday morning, all of the boats the crew checked out passed inspection, but the Marine Patrol will continue to work 24-7 to catch those who violate laws and regulations.

The Marine Patrol is a division of the Department of Marine Resource and is the leading agency over what occurs on state waters.

Marine Patrol officers also help out with search and rescue missions.