1997 Regular Session
To: Conservation and Water Resources
By: Representative Barnett (116th)
House Bill 1444
(As Passed the House)
AN ACT TO REVISE THE PENALTIES FOR THE USE OF ILLEGAL NETS IN MARINE WATERS; TO PROVIDE UNIFORM PENALTIES FOR SIMILAR VIOLATIONS; TO AMEND SECTIONS 49-15-77, 49-15-79 AND 49-15-315, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, IN CONFORMITY THERETO; TO AMEND SECTION 49-15-29, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO INCREASE LICENSE FEES FOR BOATS USED FOR COMMERCIAL HOOK AND LINE FISHING; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 49-15-77, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
49-15-77. (1) It is unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to catch, take or carry away any saltwater fish by or with any gill nets, trammel nets, purse seines, seines, fish traps or other like contrivances except permitted eel traps, in any area of the State of Mississippi within one hundred (100) feet of the mouth of any river, bayou, creek, canal, stream, tributary, lake, bay, inlet or other water source entering into areas defined as salt waters under the jurisdiction of the commission.
(2) A person, firm or corporation convicted of a violation of this section shall be punished as provided in Section 49-15-100(2), Mississippi Code of 1972.
SECTION 2. Section 49-15-79, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
49-15-79. (1) It is unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to use or attempt to use a purse seine for the taking of fish or to have such seine in the water within one (1) mile of the shoreline of the County of Hancock or Harrison in the State of Mississippi. The Boards of Supervisors of Hancock, Harrison and Jackson Counties shall have the authority to submit proposed regulations to the commission to regulate within their respective counties the use of gill nets and trammel nets. The commission may consider all such proposals submitted by the boards of supervisors in formulating regulations to be promulgated under this section.
(2) A person, firm or corporation convicted of a violation of this section or regulations promulgated under this section shall be punished by the penalties provided in Section 49-15-100(2), Mississippi Code of 1972.
SECTION 3. Section 49-15-315, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
49-15-315. (1) It is unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to engage in commercial harvesting of crabs, oysters, shrimp, bait shrimp or saltwater fish in the Pascagoula River System north of the CSX Railroad in Jackson County, Mississippi, except for the following:
(a) A person may take any euryhaline species of minnow; and
(b) A person may take live bait shrimp between the hours of sunrise and sunset on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the West Pascagoula River System when opened by the department after sampling studies.
(2) A person may take live bait shrimp between the hours of sunrise and 12:00 noon in the Back Bay of Biloxi when opened by the department after sampling studies.
(3) The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory shall study all estuaries and bays deemed to be nurseries. The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory may recommend the establishment of nursery grounds in the estuaries and bays if necessary to protect the state's fishing resources.
(4) The department shall set the limits on all catches for noncommercial use.
(5) A person, firm or corporation found guilty of violating this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined as provided in Section 49-15-100(2), or imprisoned not more than three (3) months, or both; and in addition, the commission shall seize and confiscate all commercial nets, trawls, traps, tongs and boats used for such purpose and dispose of it at public sale and shall deposit the proceeds to the credit of the Seafood Fund.
SECTION 4. Section 49-15-29, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
49-15-29. (1) The commission is hereby authorized and directed to assess and collect, under its direction and subject to its regulation, the following licenses and taxes:
(a) Each vessel used to catch, take, carry or transport oysters from the reefs of the State of Mississippi, or engaged in transporting any oysters in any of the waters within the territorial jurisdiction of the State of Mississippi, for commercial use, must annually, before beginning operations, be licensed by the commission and pay the following license fee: an annual license fee of Fifty Dollars ($50.00) on all vessels or boats utilized for tonging oysters, and One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) on all vessels or boats utilized for dredging oysters.
Each out-of-state vessel used to catch, take, carry or transport oysters from the reefs of the State of Mississippi, or engaged in transporting any oysters in any of the waters within the territorial jurisdiction of the State of Mississippi, for commercial use, must annually, before beginning operations, be licensed by the commission and pay the following license fee: an annual license fee of One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) on all vessels or boats utilized for tonging oysters, and Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00) on all vessels or boats utilized for dredging oysters.
(b) All oysters harvested in the State of Mississippi shall be tagged. Tags shall be issued by the department and shall bear the catcher's name and the date and origin of the catch; the opposite side thereof shall bear the shell stock dealer's name and permit number. The department shall number all tags issued and shall maintain a record thereof.
(c) No person shall catch or take oysters from the waters of the State of Mississippi for personal use without having paid an annual recreational oyster permit fee of Ten Dollars ($10.00) and obtaining a permit therefor from the commission. Oysters caught under a recreational permit shall not be offered for sale. The limits on the allowable catch of oysters for recreational purposes shall be three (3) sacks per week. The department shall issue tags of a distinguishing color to designate recreationally harvested oysters, which shall be tagged on the same day of harvest in the manner prescribed in paragraph (b) for commercially harvested oysters.
(d) No person shall catch or take any saltwater crabs in the waters of the State of Mississippi for commercial purposes without having paid an annual resident license fee of Seventy-five Dollars ($75.00) or an annual nonresident license fee of Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00) on each boat used therefor, and obtaining a license therefor from the commission.
(e) All vessels to be used in catching or transporting fish for commercial purposes in such waters must, before beginning operations, obtain an annual license from the commission according to the following schedule:
The applicant therefor shall pay a fee of Twenty-five Dollars ($25.00) on boats used for commercial hook and line fishing, and a resident fee of One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) or a nonresident fee of Three Hundred Dollars ($300.00) on boats using trammel nets, gill nets or seines not more than one thousand two hundred (1,200) feet in length. All vessels engaged in commercial hook and line fishing shall be issued a separate annual license by the commission at a fee of Three Hundred Dollars ($300.00) and crew members shall not be subject to the additional licensing requirements outlined herein.
(f) Each person buying or handling seafood secured from commercial fishermen, or from other wholesale dealers, for the purpose of resale, whether handling on a commission basis or otherwise, and every resident person shipping seafood out of the State of Mississippi on consignment or order, except fishermen shipping their own catch, shall be considered a wholesale dealer and shall be required to pay a license fee in the sum of One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) per annum, such license to be issued by the commission. The privilege of a wholesaler shall also include the privilege of a retailer without additional license. Where seafoods are sold at retail in grocery stores and meat markets which pay a city, county or state privilege license for such operation, such grocery stores and meat markets shall not be liable for the payment of the tax above levied.
(g) Each factory or manufacturing establishment to engage in the manufacture of oil, fish scrap, fish meal, fertilizer or other products from menhaden, the sum of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00).
On each boat or vessel to engage in catching, taking or transporting menhaden in the waters of the State of Mississippi, the sum of One Hundred Dollars ($100.00).
On each net, seine, trawl or purse net used in catching or taking menhaden in the waters of the State of Mississippi, the sum of Fifty Dollars ($50.00).
(h) Each live bait catcher boat engaged in taking live bait shrimp shall pay an annual privilege tax of One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) for each boat so engaged in such operation. Such operations shall not exceed two (2) boats per license.
(i) Each "live bait dealer" desiring to be engaged in selling or otherwise dispensing live bait to sport fishermen shall pay an annual privilege tax of Fifty Dollars ($50.00) and must make written application to the commission providing the name of his "live bait catcher boat," the name of the captain of his "live bait catcher boat," his Mississippi state sales tax number and a sworn statement that dead shrimp will not be sold in containers having a volume in excess of sixteen (16) ounces. Licensed live bait catcher boats and licensed live bait dealers cannot operate as commercial shrimpers or commercial shrimp dealers or otherwise engage in commercial shrimping operations. Live bait dealers shall only sell or otherwise dispose of bait shrimp when alive or
dead with heads attached solely as bait to recreational fishermen or other licensed live bait dealers as regulated by the commission. Only licensed commercial shrimpers may transport shrimp across the state line for the purpose of selling or delivering live bait to another state. Any person, firm or corporation found guilty of purchasing shrimp from a live bait camp or live bait catcher boat, other than for the purpose described in this paragraph, shall be fined Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) for the first offense and shall be fined Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00) and forfeit all seafood licenses for a second or subsequent offense. In addition, each application for a "live bait dealer" license must contain a statement of the operating hours, at least eight (8) per twenty-four-hour period, and the location of the camp which must be accessible to the general public by public road and navigable waters. Applications for "live bait dealers" license must be completed and submitted to the commission between the first day of January and the last day of April of each year. Any "live bait dealer" desiring to engage in the catching of live shrimp in one location and then transporting them to his licensed live bait camp by truck shall first make written application to the commission providing the make and model of the truck, a Mississippi license tag number and shall be responsible for its adherence to any and all regulations duly adopted by the commission for the transportation of live bait shrimp. Upon receipt of the application, the commission shall verify that the applicant is in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations and after such verification the commission shall issue a permit authorizing the transportation of live shrimp.
(j) Every freight boat, ice boat and catching boat used in catching or transporting saltwater shrimp taken from the waters of the State of Mississippi for sale in their fresh state, or for canning, packing, freezing or drying, shall first obtain from the commission an annual privilege license at the following rates:
Boats or vessels under thirty (30) feet in length, overall measurements; resident license Fifty Dollars ($50.00), nonresident license One Hundred Dollars ($100.00).
Boats or vessels thirty (30) to forty-five (45) feet in length, overall measurements; resident license Seventy-five Dollars ($75.00), nonresident license One Hundred Fifty Dollars ($150.00).
Boats or vessels over forty-five (45) feet in length, overall measurements; resident license One Hundred Dollars ($100.00), nonresident license Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00).
(k) Any factory or person engaged in the canning, processing, freezing, drying or shipping of oysters, fish, saltwater crabs or saltwater shrimp shall be considered a seafood processor and shall pay an annual privilege tax of Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00) and shall receive from the commission a license therefor upon the payment of such sum to the commission and it is unlawful for any factory or person to engage in the herein specified activities without first having obtained such license. The privilege of a processor shall also include the privileges of a wholesaler without additional license. Such privilege tax license shall be nontransferable and a license shall be required for each factory or place of business. This license shall not apply to, nor shall the payment of the annual privilege tax of Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00) be due by, a dealer in fresh seafoods who merely preserves the same for future sale to prevent spoilage and is in competition with other retailers who are not required to pay this tax.
(l) On each boat engaged in operations outlined in Section 49-15-15(3)(p), an annual license fee of Twenty Dollars ($20.00).
(m) Each recreational vessel that engages in shrimping with a net having a corkline length of sixteen (16) feet or less shall pay an annual resident license fee of Fifteen Dollars ($15.00) or an annual nonresident license fee of Thirty Dollars ($30.00).
(2) Every freight boat, ice boat and catching boat used in catching or transporting saltwater shrimp taken from the waters of the State of Mississippi for sale in their fresh state, or for canning, packing, freezing, drying or as bait shall register the name of the captain of the vessel at the time that the vessel obtains the annual privilege license provided for in this section. The individual registered as the captain of the vessel may be substituted after notification to and the approval of the deputy director or his designated representative. The captain shall purchase a license title "captain license." This license shall be purchased at the same time the vessel license is purchased. The fee for a captain license shall be a minimum of Ten Dollars ($10.00).
(3) Any nonresident who applies for a commercial fishing license of any type as provided for in this section shall be subjected to the herein prescribed fee or fees, provided, however, that if such nonresident's domicile state charges a greater fee or fees to a Mississippi resident for like activity, then such nonresident shall be subjected to the fee or fees that a Mississippi resident would pay in such nonresident's state of domicile for engaging in like activity. Nonresident licenses must be purchased at any building which is regularly operated by the department on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. From and after September 15, 1994, no nonresident shall be issued a commercial fishing license under this section for the taking of fish or saltwater shrimp using any type of net if such nonresident's state of domicile prohibits the issuing of commercial fishing licenses to residents of this state to engage in like activity.
(4) All commercial licenses provided for under this section that relate to the taking of seafood shall be purchased from May 1 through April 30 at the fees herein provided. Such licenses shall expire on April 30 following the date of issuance.
(5) The commission may designate such persons, other than a salaried employee of the state, who may be authorized to issue any license under this section which the commission deems appropriate. Such persons so authorized shall have the power and authority to collect and retain for issuance of such license the sum of One Dollar ($1.00) in addition to the license fee as provided herein. The commission shall establish the qualifications of persons authorized to issue licenses under this section and shall also establish the procedure for the issuance of such licenses by such authorized persons and the procedure for collection of license fees by and from such authorized persons.
SECTION 5. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.