Commission On Marine Resources Considers Trout Proposal

The Commission on Marine Resources will keep the current 14 inch minimum size limit for speckled trout.

Tuesday's vote by the commission follows three public hearings, months of debate and a petition by fishermen to lower the size limit to 12 inches.

The commission even considered, but rejected, a last minute compromise.

"And I'd like to see Mississippi also come up with a better management plan for their trout," said commissioner Richard Gollott, who favored the lower 12 inch minimum.

The DMR staff argued that keeping the 14 inch minimum is best.

Mike Buchanan works in the Marine Fisheries Division.

"A size of fish that is better able to spawn. Keeping the spawning stock up a little bit, you're better able to sustain the population," he told the board.

Two commissioners pointed to improved catches of trout, as an indication the current limit is working.

"Right now in Jackson County they're catching five and six and seven and eight pound speckled trout. Something has happened to make that phenomena happen," said commissioner Shelby Drummond.

Rather than try for a straight 12 inch limit, Gollott moved for a compromise.

"That we retain the minimum size limit of 14 inches and allow for five undersized fish to be retained. But undersize fish cannot be below a minimum 12 inch size limit," he proposed.

That left the board evenly divided.

Commission chairman, Dr. Vernon Asper, could have let the compromise die as a tie vote. Instead, he decided to vote no, choosing to keep the current 14 inch minimum size limit.

"I believe in this case that the science is adequate. That the staff made a recommendation that was appropriate. And that we need to do what we can to protect and build the resource," said Asper.

The chairman says it's important to look at ways to improve fisheries management, to ensure future generations have an opportunity to catch speckled trout.