LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - Avid fisherman Bob Sweeting says he didn't realize the two trout he hooked two months ago were under the legal size. But when he was stopped by a DMR officer at the dock that day, he found out.
"I went fishing down in the Pass and had what the officer said was illegal trout, undersized," Sweeting recalled. "He wrote a ticket... this is back in December."
Sweeting went to Harrison County Justice Court to pay the fishing fine and was shocked to learn how much he had to pay.
"Pulled it up on the computer and told me it was $223 for a fine of two fish," Sweeting stated.
Sweeting got another surprise when he saw the breakdown of the fine.
He said, "$100.00 goes to DMR. Why? For what? $7.50 goes to Law Library. Why should we pay for a lawyer's library?"
According to the Department of Marine Resources the fine for catching underweight fish is $100. But each DMR ticket also has a Game and Fish Assessment Fee of $89. So where does that money go?
I spoke with one of the investigating officers. He said two weeks ago he questioned the Game and Fish Assessment Fee. He wanted to know where that $89 went because it didn't go to DMR. So I contacted one of the attorney's for DMR who told me he had no idea where that money goes.
I made more phone calls to various government agencies.
I was told the Wildlife and Fisheries Department in Jackson might receive that Game and Fish Assessment Fee. I contacted them by telephone and they said, they don't receive that money. So where does that $89 go?
More phone calls finally led me to Greg Illich with Harrison County Justice Court and an answer.
"The $89 fee, the Game and Fish Assessment, that is settled to the County Treasury of Harrison County and that money is then forwarded to Department of Finance and Administration in Jackson," Illich explained.
Gillich said $25,598 was collected from the Game and Fish Assessment Fee in Harrison County in 2012.