Guy Harvey Magazine

WIN 2017

Guy Harvey Magazine is focused on fishing, boating, scuba diving, and marine conservation. Portfolios from the world's best fishing photographers, articles on gear, travel, tournaments, apparel, lifestyle, seafood recipes, sustainable fisheries.

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46 | www.GuyHarveyMagazine.com Jamie Miller A Conversation With There's politics and there's fishing. Then you have the politics of fishing, which can be very difficult waters to navigate. Balancing recreation and commercial interests, setting catch and size limits, and working toward a sustainable fishery are just a few of the challenges our regulatory agencies face. To get a bead on the big picture of Mississippi's saltwater fishing, we sat down with Jamie Miller, Executive Director of the state's Department of Marine Resources. GHM: What is unique in the Mississippi fishing experience compared to other regions of the Gulf? JM: Variety. Fishing in Mississippi is not one size fits all. Mississippi gives you a range of fishing options from inshore fishing for speckled trout to offshore fishing for red snapper and much more. We have white sand beaches and bayous and marshes for wade fishing. There are piers and jetties for anglers who want to get comfortable and enjoy the Gulf breeze. If you own a boat or have a friend who does, we have a series of inshore and offshore artificial reefs and a chain of barrier islands with surf and sea grasses. GHM: People along the Gulf Coast are understandably obsessed with red snapper. How has cooperation among the five Gulf states benefited the fishery and how impactful has Mississippi's role been? JM: The five Gulf states have worked together in recent years to bring attention to current management strategies by identifying what we believe are data gaps. Mississippi is one of a few Gulf states leading in the collection of data by establishing a mandatory reporting program. The results have been eye-opening and have given greater insight to red snapper pressure and landings. Good management starts with good information. GHM: Mississippi is proposing some changes to speckled trout regulations. What does the future hold? JM: In 2016, our agency completed a peer-reviewed stock assessment of speckled trout, and the results were alarming. In the spring of 2016, we began making public announcements about our findings. Since then, we have made numerous presentations and received hundreds of written comments. Our Commission on Marine Resources (CMR) established a target SPR (spawning potential ratio) of 20% and a timeline to reach the target. The CMR adopted proposed changes to the size limits from 13 in. to 15 in., and to prohibit a charter captain and crew from possessing daily bag limits. The changes become effective in January 2017. It has been a challenging but necessary process.

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