CMR reconsiders closing recreational speckled trout season

CMR reconsiders closing recreational speckled trout season

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - The Commission on Marine Resources on Tuesday reconsidered its earlier proposal to close speckled trout season for three months next year. Plenty of negative feedback from recreational fishermen prompted the CMR to back down.

In order to help replenish the dwindling numbers of speckled trout, the commission voted last month to close the recreational season from January through March of next year; and raise the minimum length to 15 inches from the current 13 inches.

But, at Tuesday's meeting in Pascagoula, a change of heart.

"The closure, the three-month closure, for the spotted sea trout. January, February, and March. I'd like to make a motion to reconsider that and take it off," said CMR Chairman Richard Gollott.

The move to reconsider followed a widespread backlash from recreational fishermen and those who make a living with the most popular gamefish in Mississippi.

"We've had the same comments that y'all have talked about, from the marina owners, from the bait shops. Even Academy Sports made a comment, as big as they are," F.J. Eicke, with the Coastal Conservation Association, told commissioners.

The commissioner who represents commercial fishermen spoke in favor of keeping the three-month closure.

"We've got a fishery that's overfished and undergoing overfishing. And the least we can do is give it a break, a three-month break. In the end, everybody is going to be better off for it. Let's protect what few fish we have left," said Steve Bosarage.

"Science does not support that a seasonal closure will make a significant change," said Commissioner Mark Havard.

Dr. Paul Mickle told commissioners raising the minimum length from 13 to 15 inches could make a significant impact.

"It's a really positive outlook. The reproductive potentials of these 13 and 14 inch fish, have an amazing potential if they're left out of the fishery to reproduce and get the SPR going up," said Dr. Paul Mickle, with DMR Marine Fisheries.

In the end, the CMR voted four to one to do away with the planned season closure.

Meanwhile, a public hearing will be held this Thursday, November 17th, on the proposal to raise the minimum size limit of speckled trout, from 13 to 15 inches. The meeting begins at 6pm in the auditorium of the Bolton building, where the DMR headquarters is located on Bayview Avenue in Biloxi.

Copyright 2016 WLOX. All rights reserved.