GULF OF MEXICO — Mississippi’s annual 40,000-pound limit on commercially caught spotted seatrout is under review.
The Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources decided on a study after being told commercial fishermen reached the 40,000-pound quota this year by May 19. The season had opened in January.
The Mississippi Press reports fisheries biologist Buck Buchanan recommended to the commission an increase in the quota to 50,000 pounds.
“This would extend it a certain period of time,” he said.
Buchanan said about 1.2 million pounds of speckled seatrout are caught annually in Mississippi.
Commission member Richard Gollott said more study is needed before officials act to increase the quota.
“I was thinking about reducing the months and maybe put a 10,000 pound quota per month to stretch this thing out so it’s not in two months,” he said.
Gollott said it is important to maintain the season through the summer.
F.J. Eicke of the Coastal Conservation Association, a recreational fisherman’s group, said, “If we are starting to fool with numbers that are roughly 10,000 a month, which is 120,000 a year, we are going to have to talk about that.”
Eicke said the greatest value of spotted seatrout — also called speckled seatrout — comes from recreational fishing.
“A commercially caught speckled trout yields $2.50 a pound,” he said. “A recreationally caught speckled trout yields far more than that.”
Eicke said tourists fishing for the seatrout raise the fish’s value.
“That’s not a fish that is caught in such bulk that it needs to be shipped out all over the country,” he said.
Jerry Ford, a Pass Christian seafood dealer, said the commercial quota for seatrout should be 100,000 to 150,000 pounds a year.
“Forty thousand pounds, that’s a drop in the bucket,” he said of the current quota. “When you filet 40,000 pounds of trout, you got 12,000 pounds of meat. That’s not even a tractor-trailer load.”