CMR likely to tighten regulations to protect speckled trout fishery

CMR likely to tighten regulations to protect speckled trout fishery

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - New regulations are likely on the way for speckled trout fishing in Mississippi. That's because the most popular game fish in the state is currently being over fished and its numbers are declining. The Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources is considering tougher rules.

"When the stock assessment came out, it was pretty definitive that something bad was happening. And so we were convinced at that point, it had to happen," said F.J. Eicke, with the Coastal Conservation Association.

The CCA supports tougher regulations to help conserve the resource. The Commission on Marine Resources was told at last month's meeting that the speckled trout fishery is in trouble. Overfishing has raised real concerns about the future population of the resource.

The Coastal Conservation Association is recommending raising the minimum length of speckled trout to at least 14 inches, and decreasing the bag limit from the current 15 fish per day.

"Now we have to consider what is allowed. And if we need to decrease the bag limit, so be it. We think that 10 good fish would make a better bag limit than 15 smaller fish," said Eicke.

"Management alternatives to rebuild a fishery are much different than to stabilize a fishery. Right now, we do feel we have to look at some rebuilding alternatives," said Matt Hill, who works for the DMR Marine Fisheries division.

Following last month's CMR meeting, Commission Chairman Richard Gollott told WLOX News Now that everything is on the table in terms of regulations for speckled trout. That could mean increasing the minimum length, decreasing the daily bag limit, or even season or area closures.

"We're running the data through predictive models. So, we're forecasting what we think may happen if we put in some of these management alternatives," Hill explained.

"We're going to give the commission all the options that we can possibly give them. And hopefully, that will spark a discussion and we can come up with the right answer for the resource and for the users."

The Commission on Marine Resources will take up the issue at its monthly meeting on September 20th.

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