Controversy Continues Over Speckled Trout Size Limit

The Commission on Marine Resources addressed the speckled trout size limit issue at its meeting on Tuesday.

Last month, the commission agreed to reduce the minimum size on specks from 14 inches to 13 inches in Harrison and Hancock counties.

However, the commission kept the limit 14 inches in Jackson County waters.

Commissioners reconsidered the size limit rollback at the request of the Coastal Conservation Association.

F.J. Eicke is chairman of the Coastal Conservation Association of Mississippi.

"To allow this action to stand and go in effect would be regressive and negatively impact the spotted seatrout stock," he told the board.

The CCA chairman argued the commission ignored the recommendation of its own staff in agreeing to lower the trout size limits in Harrison and Hancock counties.

"I would ask the commission to please put this issue to rest, so the citizens of Mississippi can be assured that this valued marine resource will remain protected and continue the recovery the current data reflects," said Eicke.

The issue became more divisive last month, when the commission voted to lower the trout limit for Hancock and Harrison counties, while keeping the 14 inch limit in Jackson County.

"I'm not sure who's getting the short shrift on this deal, whether it's the Jackson county people that don't get to catch 13 inch trout, or the Harrison and Hancock people who may end up with a smaller pool of fish as a result of taking the 13 inch trout," said fisherman William Abbott Jr.

Commissioner Richard Gollott pointed out Louisiana has long enjoyed successful trout fishing with a 12 inch limit. He made a motion to extend the 13 inch limit into Jackson County as well. It passed 3 to 1.

"There's so many people who go out and fish all day long and they don't get to keep any 14 inch fish. And they just want to be able to catch some fish and take them home you know," said Gollott.

This may not be the end of the issue. The Coastal Conservation Association is considering a lawsuit.

"Obviously the next one would be some type of court action. Because we think they violated state law in not providing for the conservation of a resource," said Eicke.