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Some Captains Say Federal Limits Hurting Mississippi Charter Fishing Industry

By Rhonda Miller | Published 15 May 2012 12:54am | comments
Red Snapper (Drawing by Joe Jewell)

Only two red snapper can be caught under federal limits, even though Mississippi fishermen say the waters are full of this favorite species. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports some charter boat captains say the regulations are damaging one of the state’s important economic engines.

After 15 years in the charter boat business, Steve Perrigin of Strictly Fishin’ Charters of Ocean Springs knows what his customers like.

"Red snapper is a prime species of fish for the table. Amberjack, the same thing with them. And we have a lot of our customers come down just to catch those two fish, but with the limits now being so small, this customer base is going away. It’s just  not feasible for them to make the trip and to pay the expenses for a couple of fish."

Perrigin has downsized to a smaller boat, he stays closer to shore and he catches different fish.

"Yeah, I pretty much got out of the offshore fishery because of the limits and the seasons." (What do you hear from your fellow charter boat captains, as far as these particular fish?) "It’s killin’ us. It’s killin’ our business."

In its report to Congress on the Status of U.S Fisheries, released yesterday, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says red snapper and amberjack have been over-fished in the Gulf of Mexico.  

Galen Tromble of NOAA Fisheries says the annual report evaluates more than 200 recreational and commercial species, and every type of fish can’t be assessed every year, so there’s a lag time in the report, especially about red snapper.

"We have made a determination that will come out in the next report that the stock is no longer subject to over-fishing and at some point the stock will be large enough to come off the over-fished list."

Dale Diaz is director of the Office of Marine Fisheries for the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources.

"There are a lot of other fish out here to catch. Our charter boats here in Mississppi are fortunate. They do very well catching red fish and Spanish mackerel and king mackerel."

NOAA Fisheries says there is not any direct link between the new report and the impact of the oil spill.



Red Snapper (Drawing by Joe Jewell)



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