BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - They are two of the most popular game fish in South Mississippi. And on Tuesday, the Commission on Marine Resources discussed regulations involving red snapper and red drum. The CMR is looking for the best means of keeping a healthy stock of those species.
The Commission on Marine Resources was asked to consider opening another recreational red snapper season in September in state waters, given the fact that the special "weekend season" in July saw only limited participation and a limited catch.
During the 12 fishing days in July, DMR statistics showed just eight boats per day with four anglers per vessel.
"Our catch rate was 1.9 snapper per angler, per trip. And the average weight of these snapper was 3.6 pounds. And this is approximately half of what the average was during the nine day federal season," said Matt Hill, with the DMR fisheries staff.
Commissioner Steve Bosarge said he was concerned most with the health of the red snapper stock if another season were added.
"As much as the popular decision would be, heck yeah, let's open it up. At the end of the day, it's all about the fish and the resource," Bosarge said.
After some discussion, commissioners decided to delay any decision on another snapper season until next month's meeting.
As for red drum, more commonly known as redfish, the CMR heard a stock assessment update on the health of the redfish population in state waters.
"We're having more fishermen out there. They're able to catch these fish, so it's going up, but they're not catching as many red drum per trip as they were in the past," said Hill.
And while the population may be healthy now in state waters, Hill told commissioners he doesn't care for the statistical trends he's seeing.
"They're trending in a direction I don't like to see. I would rather the trends be the other way. I would rather the catch per unit effort to be static, or to be going up," he told the board.
With that word from their staff, commissioners made a quick decision.
"Leave the red drum laws exactly like they are," suggested Commissioner Ernie Zimmerman.
He made that motion, which then passed with one dissenting vote.