State opposing Louisiana’s bid to extend water boundaries

GULF OF MEXICO — The state of Mississippi will oppose Louisiana’s effort to extend its state water boundaries out to 10.4 miles.

The Sun Herald reports the Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources on Monday unanimously passed a resolution opposing Louisiana’s plan.

In June, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission in June voted to extend state waters from the current three miles out to 10.4 miles into what is now federal waters.

Louisiana officials said the Legislature got them authority to extend waters in a 2011 law. However, the law provided that no extension would take effect until recognized by Congress or approved in litigation.

Louisiana and Mississippi’s state waters extend only three miles beyond their islands. Other Gulf of Mexico states’ waters extend about 9 or 10 miles south.

Mississippi Department of Marine Resources Director Bill Walker said he doubts Louisiana will be successful.

“I don’t think there’s a chance of Congress approving it,” Walker said. “Only Congress can provide federal waters to a state, or the courts.”

Nonetheless, Mississippi charter boat operators and recreational fishermen were upset.

“We would lose 30- to 40-percent the area we fish,” said Jay Trochesset, captain of the Silver Dollar III charter boat.

Trochesset said large Mississippi charter boats would have to pay about $2,000 a year to fish in Louisiana waters, which could block Mississippi from federal water.

On top of that, he said, Louisiana would require that everyone on a charter have a Louisiana license. He said this would be prohibitively expensive and an administrative nightmare for charter operations.

Mississippi recreational fishermen would also have to get a Louisiana license for areas south of Mississippi waters that are now federal.

Trochesset said he believes Louisiana is responding to tougher federal fishing regulations, such as strict limits and short seasons placed on red snapper.

“There’s no reason to shorten the season,” Tochesset said. “I’ve been running charters on my own for 39 years, plus seven years before that with my father. There are more snapper out there today in the Gulf of Mexico than ever before.

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