1997 Regular Session
To: Conservation and Water Resources
By: Representative Ellington
House Bill 1480
(As Sent to Governor)
AN ACT TO RECODIFY AND REVISE THE MISSISSIPPI SEAFOOD LAWS; TO CREATE A NEW CODE SECTION TO BE CODIFIED AS SECTION 49-15-18, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE DEPARTMENT TO PUBLISH A COPY OF THE SEAFOOD LAWS AND REGULATIONS; TO CREATE A NEW CODE SECTION TO BE CODIFIED AS SECTION 49-15-28, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE FOR SEAFOOD WHOLESALERS AND PROCESSORS LICENSES AND PRESCRIBE FEES FOR THOSE LICENSES; TO CREATE A NEW CODE SECTION TO BE CODIFIED AS SECTION 49-15-34, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE ALL BOATS USED IN OTHER STATES TO PURCHASE A LICENSE REFLECTING THAT FACT AND TO PROVIDE FOR A SEAFOOD TRANSPORT PERMIT; TO CREATE A NEW CODE SECTION TO BE CODIFIED AS SECTION 49-15-36, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT THE COMMISSION ON MARINE RESOURCES HAS FULL JURISDICTION OVER OYSTER REEFS AND OYSTER BOTTOMS AND TO DEFINE THAT JURISDICTION; TO AUTHORIZE THE COMMISSION ON MARINE RESOURCES TO ISSUE SPECIAL PERMITS FOR TAKING OYSTERS AND ALLOW TAKING OF OYSTERS IN CLOSED SEASONS; TO CREATE A NEW CODE SECTION TO BE CODIFIED AS SECTION 49-15-38, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE CULLING OF OYSTERS ON NATURAL REEFS, TO REQUIRE THE COMMISSION TO ACQUIRE AND REPLANT SHELLS AND TO PROVIDE PENALTIES FOR FAILURE TO DELIVER SHELLS OR PAY A SHELL RETENTION FEE; TO CREATE A NEW CODE SECTION TO BE CODIFIED AS SECTION 49-15-40, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE THE COMMISSION TO SUPPORT PROJECTS BRINGING ADDITIONAL WATER TO OYSTER BEDS OR CONSTRUCTING NEW BEDS, TO OPERATE AN ONSHORE MOLLUSCAN DEPURATION FACILITY AND TO LEASE WATER BOTTOMS TO POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS FOR DEVELOPMENT OF REEFS; TO CREATE A NEW CODE SECTION TO BE CODIFIED AS SECTION 49-15-44, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROHIBIT THE SALE OF ILLEGAL OYSTERS AND TO PROVIDE PENALTIES FOR ILLEGAL SALE; TO CREATE A NEW CODE SECTION TO BE CODIFIED AS SECTION 49-15-46, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE FEES ON VESSELS TAKING OYSTERS AND ON PERSONS CATCHING OYSTERS FOR PERSONAL USE, TO REQUIRE OYSTERS TO BE TAGGED AND TO IMPOSE A SHELL RETENTION FEE; TO CREATE A NEW SECTION TO BE CODIFIED AS SECTION 49-15-64.1, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO ESTABLISH THE SHRIMPING SEASON AND TO CLOSE CERTAIN WATERS TO SHRIMPING; TO CREATE A NEW CODE SECTION TO BE CODIFIED AS SECTION 14-15-64.2, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE THE TAKING OF SHRIMP WITH A CAST NET; TO CREATE A NEW CODE SECTION TO BE CODIFIED AS SECTION 49-15-64.3, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROHIBIT TAKING OF SHRIMP UNDER A CERTAIN SIZE AND TO PRESCRIBE PENALTIES FOR CERTAIN VIOLATIONS; TO CREATE A NEW CODE SECTION TO BE CODIFIED AS SECTION 49-15-64.4, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE LIVE BAIT CATCHER BOATS AND LIVE BAIT DEALERS TO BE LICENSED AND TO PAY FEES AND TO PRESCRIBE PENALTIES FOR PURCHASING SHRIMP FROM LIVE BAIT CAMPS OR CATCHER BOATS FOR CERTAIN PURPOSES; TO CREATE A NEW CODE SECTION TO BE CODIFIED AS SECTION 49-15-64.5, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE BOATS CATCHING SALTWATER SHRIMP TO BE LICENSED AND TO PAY FEES; TO CREATE A NEW CODE SECTION TO BE CODIFIED AS SECTION 49-15-74, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE THE COMMISSION TO ESTABLISH THE SEASON FOR TAKING MENHADEN; TO CREATE A NEW CODE SECTION TO BE CODIFIED AS SECTION 49-15-80, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE ALL VESSELS CATCHING OR TRANSPORTING FISH TO OBTAIN A LICENSE AND PAY A FEE; TO CREATE A NEW CODE SECTION TO BE CODIFIED AS SECTION 49-15-84, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE THE COMMISSION TO REGULATE THE TAKING OF CRABS AND TO PRESCRIBE PENALTIES FOR TAKING CERTAIN CRABS; TO CREATE A NEW CODE SECTION TO BE CODIFIED AS SECTION 49-15-86, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE PERSONS TAKING SALTWATER CRABS TO OBTAIN A LICENSE AND PAY A FEE; TO AUTHORIZE THE JOINT LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE ON COMPILATION, REVISION AND PUBLICATION TO EFFECTUATE AN ORDERLY COMPILATION OF THIS ACT; TO REPEAL SECTIONS 1 AND 2 OF SENATE BILL 2662, 1997 REGULAR SESSION, WHICH CLARIFY THE DUTIES OF THE COMMISSION ON MARINE RESOURCES REGARDING SEAFOOD SANITATION AND TO INCORPORATE THOSE CHANGES IN THE TEXT OF THIS ACT; TO MAKE NUMEROUS TECHNICAL AMENDMENTS; TO REQUIRE FISHERY MANAGEMENT PLANS AND REGULATIONS TO BE CONSISTENT WITH CERTAIN STANDARDS FOR FISHERY CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT; TO AMEND SECTIONS 49-15-15, 49-15-29, 49-15-30, 49-15-31, 49-15-37, 49-15-83 AND 49-15-96, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, IN CONFORMITY THERETO; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. The following shall be codified as Section 49-15-18, Mississippi Code of 1972:
49-15-18. The executive director of the department shall publish an abstract copy of this chapter and all subsequent amendments to this chapter and all rules and regulations promulgated by the commission under this chapter. The department may distribute the publication to all persons requesting a copy and to each licensee at the time of issuance of the license. New regulations and amendments to this chapter may be supplied to each licensee within a reasonable time after their promulgation or passage. The department may charge a reasonable fee not to exceed actual cost for its publications.
SECTION 2. The following shall be codified as Section 49-15-28, Mississippi Code of 1972:
49-15-28. (1) 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 obtain a license and pay an annual license fee of One Hundred Dollars ($100.00). The privilege of a wholesaler shall also include the privilege of a retailer without additional license. Where seafood is sold at retail in grocery stores and meat markets which pay a city, county or state privilege license for that operation, those grocery stores and meat markets shall not be liable for the payment of the tax above levied.
(2) 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 obtain a license and pay an annual privilege tax of Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00). It is unlawful for any factory or person to engage in the canning, processing, freezing, drying or shipping of oysters, fish, saltwater crabs or saltwater shrimp without first having obtained that license. The privilege of a processor shall also include the privileges of a wholesaler without additional license. The 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 seafood for future sale to prevent spoilage and is in competition with other retailers who are not required to pay this tax.
SECTION 3. The following shall be codified as Section 49-15-34, Mississippi Code of 1972:
49-15-34. (1) The commission shall require all boats used under regulation of this chapter which are also used in waters of other states and required by those states to pay licenses or fees for the same purposes as licenses and fees are required under this chapter to purchase a license which reflects that the licensed boats are used within and without the territorial waters of Mississippi. Upon the issuance of that license, the licensed boat, if used exclusively for commercial fishing or charter boats which have been licensed and authorized by the United States Coast Guard under 46 CFR Sections 24-26 and 46 CFR Sections 175-187, shall be deemed to be in the business of interstate transportation, but this shall in no way affect the collection of other licenses and fees by the commission which would otherwise be due under this chapter. The commission shall assess and collect an annual license fee of Twenty Dollars ($20.00) on each boat engaged in operations under this subsection.
(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of this chapter, the commission shall establish a transport permit to land seafood in this state which is legally taken outside of the Mississippi territorial waters without obtaining a license under this chapter. The commission by regulation shall require the registration and inspection of those landings. The commission may establish a permit fee in an amount not to exceed the amount of the license fee established in Section 49-15-28(1). This subsection shall not be construed to supersede Section 49-15-71.
SECTION 4. The following shall be codified as Section 49-15-36, Mississippi Code of 1972:
49-15-36. (1) The commission shall have full jurisdiction and control of all public and natural oyster reefs and oyster bottoms of the State of Mississippi.
(2) Public reefs may be opened for harvest of oysters during the season on a rotating basis. At least one (1) reef must be opened in each county throughout the season, unless a reef is closed under this section, or unless the commission determines that a particular reef has been over-harvested or that a high percentage of sublegal size oysters exist on a particular reef and that harvest could damage future oyster crops. Upon making that determination, the commission may close designated reef areas and keep them closed during the season. Reefs open for harvest during the season shall be open every Monday through Saturday, and subject to the availability of funds, the reefs shall be open on Sunday.
(3) The commission shall promulgate regulations regarding the closing of oyster reefs which are determined to be contaminated or otherwise unfit for consumption. The waters of reefs closed under this chapter shall be tested between five (5) and ten (10) days after closure. When that testing indicates the oysters on the closed reef are suitable for consumption, the reef shall be opened for the taking of oysters as soon as notice of that opening may be made to interested parties. The authority to open or close oyster reefs under this chapter shall be solely within the discretion of the commission, acting through the department. The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory or other certified laboratory shall cooperate with the department and shall conduct necessary tests to determine the condition of oyster reefs at the request of the department. The department may limit the sale of oysters for human consumption, but all matters concerning the harvesting of oysters shall be within the jurisdiction of the commission.
(4) (a) The commission may issue special permits for the purpose of catching oysters outside the open season or in areas not normally open to harvest to those nonprofit organizations that are tax exempt under Section 501(c) of the United States Internal Revenue Code and which have on file with the State Tax Commission a tax exemption letter issued by the United States Internal Revenue Service.
(b) The commission shall promulgate rules and regulations governing the taking of oysters by the nonprofit organization and shall issue such regulations to all organizations upon request and at the issuance of the special permit.
(5) The commission shall establish a reasonable period of time for depuration of oysters replanted from contaminated waters. That period of time shall be consistent with the maintenance of the public health and may vary from time to time and from one reef to another in accordance with environmental conditions.
SECTION 5. The following shall be codified as Section 49-15-38, Mississippi Code of 1972:
49-15-38. (1) (a) Unless otherwise permitted by the commission, no oysters shall be taken from the reefs of this state unless culled upon the natural reefs, and all oysters less than three (3) inches from end to end, and all dead shells, shall be replaced, scattered and broadcast immediately on the natural reefs from which they are taken. It is unlawful for any captain or person in charge of any vessel, or any canner, packer, commission man, dealer or other person to purchase, sell or to have in that person's possession or under that person's control any oysters off the public reefs or private bedding grounds not culled according to this section, or any oysters under the legal size. A ten percent (10%) tolerance shall be allowed in relation to any culling.
(b) The commission may authorize the culling of oysters of a lesser measure. That authorization shall be in response to special circumstances or extreme natural conditions affecting the habitat, including, but not limited to, flooding. The department may establish checkpoints in any area within its jurisdiction to conduct inspections in the enforcement of regulations under this chapter.
(2) The commission shall acquire and replant shells, seed oysters and other materials, when funding is available, for the purpose of growing oysters. Except as provided in this section, all oyster shells produced from oysters taken from the public reefs of the State of Mississippi are the nontransferable property of the State of Mississippi, and all persons, firms or corporations dealing in or canning oysters taken from the public reefs of the state shall deliver to the commission all oyster shells taken or processed by that person, firm or corporation. The delivery of the oyster shells shall be at the place of business of the oyster processor, dealer or factory. The commission shall order the delivered oyster shells to be spread on the public reefs of this state to improve the oyster beds.
(3) Any person failing or refusing to deliver the shells or pay the shell retention fee required under Section 49-15-46 to the department when called for by the department, is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be fined not more than One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) for each barrel of shells they fail or refuse to deliver, or to tender the shell retention fee. In addition to the fine, the violator shall pay the reasonable value of the oyster shells and shall be ineligible to be licensed for any activity set forth in this chapter.
(4) The collection and planting of oyster shells as provided under this chapter shall be under the direction and supervision of the executive director of the department. Planting and replanting of oyster shells shall be coordinated by the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. The governing authorities of each county and municipality bordering upon the Mississippi Sound may assist the commission and the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in the planting and replanting of oyster shells. The commission shall construe this section to require the return of a maximum amount of shells to the reefs, and shall allow the retention of shells only in cases where the collection or return of the shells is impractical or not feasible. An equal amount of oyster shells shall be planted or replanted in the waters of each county bordering on the Mississippi Sound.
SECTION 6. The following shall be codified as Section 49-15-40, Mississippi Code of 1972:
49-15-40. (1) The commission may support projects in the nature of digging or constructing canals or ditches to bring additional water to existing oyster reefs or beds in need of that water, or for the purpose of creating or establishing new oyster reefs or beds. All reefs created or established under this section shall be public reefs. The commission may expend any monies as it deems necessary and expedient to participate in the digging of those canals. The commission may also enter into interstate or intrastate efforts to support these projects and may seek and utilize aid from all federal, state and local sources in this endeavor. To aid in the construction of any canals or ditches, the commission may exercise the right of eminent domain in the manner provided by law.
(2) The commission may construct, operate and maintain an onshore, molluscan depuration facility using any federal or special funds, other than general funds, for the purpose of testing and proving depuration technology of oysters and other molluscan shellfish. In connection with the construction, operation and maintenance of the facility, the commission may contract with any persons it deems necessary for the operation, testing, maintenance and evaluation of the facility, subject to the approval of the State Personnel Board. The commission may locate the facility on any available public properties, subject to the approval of the governing body of that jurisdiction and all other applicable state laws. Once depuration technology has been tested and proven for oysters, the commission may conduct any other tests and experiments with oysters or other shellfish as may be necessary to enhance production or quality of shellfish.
(3) The commission may lease to political subdivisions of the State of Mississippi up to one thousand (1,000) acres of water bottoms for development of oyster reefs and those political subdivisions may permit residents of the State of Mississippi to harvest oysters from the reefs. The political subdivision may charge and receive a fee for each sack of oysters harvested. The commission shall consider and approve the application of a political subdivision after determining that (a) no conflicts exist with sites requested in applications filed before the application of the political subdivision; (b) a fair and reasonable rental payment has been set; and (c) the lease will insure the maximum culture and propagation of oysters.
SECTION 7. The following shall be codified as Section 49-15-44, Mississippi Code of 1972:
49-15-44. The commission shall prohibit the sale or possession of illegal oysters. It is unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to possess or to engage in the sale of oysters not certified in this state, or to shuck or repack for sale any illegal oysters, unless that person, firm or corporation possesses a bill of sale, valid permit or affidavit of another state, properly dated, evidencing the legality of the sale or possession of the oysters in that state. Any person in possession of illegal oysters shall be subject to civil or criminal prosecution and shall be fined not less than One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) or punished as provided in Section 49-15-63.
SECTION 8. The following shall be codified as Section 49-15-46, Mississippi Code of 1972:
49-15-46. (1) Each in-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, shall annually, before beginning operations, be licensed by the commission and pay the following license fee:
(a) Fifty Dollars ($50.00) on all vessels or boats utilized for tonging oysters; or
(b) One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) on all vessels or boats utilized for dredging oysters.
(2) 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:
(a) One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) on all vessels or boats utilized for tonging oysters; or
(b) Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00) on all vessels or boats utilized for dredging oysters.
(3) 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, the date and origin of the catch, the shell stock dealer's name and permit number. The department shall number all tags issued and shall maintain a record of those tags.
(4) Each person catching or taking oysters from the waters of the State of Mississippi for personal use shall obtain a permit from the commission and pay an annual recreational oyster permit fee of Ten Dollars ($10.00). 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 subsection (3) of this section for commercially harvested oysters.
(5) The commission shall assess and collect a fee of Fifty Cents (504) per sack for the shells taken from waters within the territorial jurisdiction of the State of Mississippi, but processed in other states, in lieu of taking delivery of those shells. Funds received from the shell retention fee shall be paid into a special fund in the State Treasury to be appropriated by the Legislature for use by the commission to further oyster production in this state.
SECTION 9. The following shall be codified as Section 49-15-64.1, Mississippi Code of 1972:
49-15-64.1. The shrimp season shall open on the first Wednesday of June. The shrimp season shall be closed from January 1 until it is opened the first Wednesday of June, except south of the intercoastal waterway. The shrimp season shall be closed south of the intercoastal waterway from May 1 until it is opened the first Wednesday of June. For the purposes of this section only, that portion of the intercoastal waterway that extends from a point south of Long Beach to a point south of Point Clear is described as follows:
Begin at green buoy or beacon number 1 which is located approximately three (3) miles north of West Point on Cat Island, thence extending southwesterly to buoy or beacon number 4P, thence southwesterly to Pass Marianne Light, thence southwesterly to buoy or beacon number 15P at the northernmost point of Merrill Coquille, thence southwesterly to buoy or beacon number 17P, thence southwesterly to buoy or beacon number 22, thence westerly to Lighthouse Point and continuing westward following the meandering of the shoreline to the boundary line of the state.
The commission, by majority vote, may open the season at an earlier or later date in designated areas only after sampling areas within its jurisdiction where shrimp may be caught for the purpose of determining the count of shrimp per pound. The commission may also, by majority vote, close certain designated areas where the shrimp count is found, by sampling, to be in excess of sixty-eight (68) per pound. The following waters are protective and staging areas for young shrimp, and are permanently closed to commercial and recreational shrimping activities:
All waters north of a line beginning at a point one-half mile due South of the shoreline at the Mississippi-Alabama state boundary; thence running westerly following the meanderings of the shoreline one-half mile therefrom to Light "5" in the Bayou Casotte Channel; thence running northerly to Light "7" in the Bayou Casotte Channel; thence running westerly following the meanderings of the shoreline one-half mile therefrom to the intersection with the Pascagoula Channel; thence running northwesterly to Beacon "44" in the Pascagoula Channel; thence running southwesterly to Beacon "43" in the Pascagoula Channel; thence running in the most direct line to the northeast point of Singing River Island; thence running westerly along the north shoreline to the northwest point of Singing River Island; thence running northwesterly to a point one-half mile due south of the mouth of Graveline Bayou; thence running westerly following the meanderings of the shoreline one-half mile therefrom to Beacon "18" in the Biloxi Bay Channel; thence running northwesterly to Beacon "22" in the Biloxi Bay Channel; thence running northwesterly to Beacon "26" in the Biloxi Bay Channel; thence running westerly to Beacon "34", exclusive of the Biloxi Channel itself; thence running westerly to Beacon "30" in the Biloxi Channel, exclusive of the Biloxi Channel itself; and thence running due South to a point on the north shore of Deer Island; thence running westerly following the north shore of Deer Island to the westernmost tip; thence running westerly in the most direct line to Biloxi Beacon "8"; thence running westerly following the meanderings of the shoreline at a distance of one-half mile therefrom to a point on the centerline of the CSX Railroad Bridge over St. Louis Bay; thence running westerly along the centerline of said bridge to a point one-half mile south of the western abutment; thence running southwesterly following the meanderings of the shoreline, at a distance of one-half mile therefrom, to a point one-half mile due East of the mouth of Bayou Caddy; thence running due West to the mouth of Bayou Caddy; thence running southwesterly following the meanderings of the shoreline to the southernmost point of the Mississippi shoreline on the east bank of the mouth of the Pearl River thence following the meanderings of the east bank of the Pearl River to a point where the east bank of the Pearl River intersects the centerline of the Highway 90 bridge; thence westerly along the centerline of the Highway 90 bridge to a point that intersects the Mississippi-Louisiana state boundary.
SECTION 10. The following shall be codified as Section 49-15-64.2, Mississippi Code of 1972:
49-15-64.2. Any person, licensed live bait dealers, licensed live bait shrimpers and licensed commercial shrimpers shall be allowed to take shrimp in the bays of Bay St. Louis, Biloxi and Pascagoula with a cast net, but shall not take more than fifty (50) pounds of shrimp per person per day. The cast net shall not exceed twelve (12) feet in length.
SECTION 11. The following shall be codified as Section 49-15-64.3, Mississippi Code of 1972:
49-15-64.3. (1) It is unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to take, catch or have in their possession within territorial waters of the State of Mississippi shrimp of a size weighing in the raw state less than one (1) pound to each sixty-eight (68) shrimp, except when a valid permit or affidavit of another state identifies the catch as having been taken in non-Mississippi waters, or except in case of live bait shrimp.
(2) It is unlawful to take, catch or have in possession live bait shrimp of a size weighing in the raw state less than one (1) pound to each one hundred (100) shrimp. This provision may be changed by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the commission. The commission may adopt rules, regulations, guidelines and other operation criteria in conjunction with licensing live bait dealers and live bait catcher boats as it deems appropriate to ensure that only bona fide operations will be licensed. The commission shall consult with existing live bait dealers and live bait catcher boat operators before adoption of any regulations and before any future changes, and shall hold public hearings in every county on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
(3) If a live bait dealer or live bait catcher boat is convicted of a violation of this chapter or a duly adopted ordinance of the commission, the commission may, in addition to punishment duly adjudicated, revoke the license of the vessel or dealer to whom it is issued for a period not exceeding two (2) weeks following conviction of the first offense, not exceeding six (6) months following conviction of the second offense, and up to one (1) year following conviction of the third and subsequent offenses, if the subsequent offenses are committed within three (3) years of the first offense. Upon the revocation of the license, the commission may require the posting of a cash performance bond not to exceed One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) before the reissuance of that revoked license. The commission may require the forfeiture of that bond upon the subsequent conviction of any violation of this chapter or a duly adopted ordinance of the commission. If a person who posts bond under this section desires to no longer engage in the live bait business, that person shall certify that fact to the commission who shall return the bond. If that person desires to again engage in the live bait business, a cash performance bond may be required before the issuance of a license.
SECTION 12. The following shall be codified as Section 49-15-64.4, Mississippi Code of 1972:
49-15-64.4. (1) 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 engaged in those operations. The operations shall not exceed two (2) boats per license.
(2) Each "live bait dealer" engaging 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 the applicant's "live bait catcher boat," the name of the captain of that "live bait catcher boat," the dealer's 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 shall not 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 section, 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 shall 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 (1) location and then transporting them to the dealer's 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 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 that verification the commission shall issue a permit authorizing the transportation of live shrimp.
SECTION 13. The following shall be codified as Section 49-15-64.5, Mississippi Code of 1972:
49-15-64.5. (1) (a) Each 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 and pay a license fee at the following rates:
(i) Fifty Dollars ($50.00) for resident boats or vessels under thirty (30) feet in length in overall measurements and One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) for nonresident boats or vessels under thirty (30) feet in length in overall measurements;
(ii) Seventy-five Dollars ($75.00) for resident boats or vessels between thirty (30) and forty-five (45) feet in length in overall measurements and One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) for nonresident boats or vessels between thirty (30) and forty-five (45) feet in length in overall measurements;
(iii) One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) for resident boats or vessels greater than forty-five (45) feet in length in overall measurements and Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00) for nonresident boats or vessels greater than forty-five (45) feet in length in overall measurements.
(b) Beginning September 15, 1994, no nonresident shall be issued a commercial fishing license under this chapter for the taking of saltwater shrimp using any type of net if that nonresident's state of domicile prohibits the issuing of commercial fishing licenses to residents of this state to engage in like activity.
(2) Each recreational vessel engaging 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).
(3) 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 the deputy director's designated representative. The captain shall purchase a license entitled "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).
SECTION 14. The following shall be codified as Section 49-15-74, Mississippi Code of 1972:
49-15-74. The commission shall establish open season for menhaden not later than the third Monday in April and ending no sooner than the second Tuesday in October.
SECTION 15. The following shall be codified as Section 49-15-80, Mississippi Code of 1972:
49-15-80. (1) (a) All vessels to be used in catching or transporting fish in the waters of the State of Mississippi for commercial purposes shall, before beginning operations, obtain an annual license from the commission and pay a license fee according to the following schedule:
(i) Twenty-five Dollars ($25.00) on boats used for commercial hook and line fishing. All vessels engaged in commercial hook and line fishing shall be issued a separate annual license by the commission at a fee of One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) and crew members shall not be subject to the additional licensing requirements outlined in this section.
(ii) 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.
(b) Beginning September 15, 1994, no nonresident shall be issued a commercial fishing license under this chapter for the taking of fish using any type of net if that nonresident's state of domicile prohibits the issuing of commercial fishing licenses to residents of this state to engage in like activity.
(2) Each factory or manufacturing establishment engaging in the manufacture of oil, fish scrap, fish meal, fertilizer or other products from menhaden, shall pay a license fee of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00).
(3) Each boat or vessel engaging in the catching, taking or transporting menhaden in the waters of the State of Mississippi, the sum of One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) and shall pay Fifty Dollars ($50.00) on each net, seine, trawl or purse net used in catching or taking menhaden in the waters of the State of Mississippi.
SECTION 16. The following shall be codified as Section 49-15-84, Mississippi Code of 1972:
49-15-84. (1) The commission shall coordinate with the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in the development of an ordinance for the purpose of taking Callinectes sapidus (blue crab) or allied species. The ordinance shall include provisions for the establishment of size limits for individual or market use as well as establishing legal harvest size for the cultivating of peeler crabs and soft-shell crabs.
(2) The commission shall establish minimum specifications for crab traps and shall require buoys of adequate size which are identified as to the owner of the buoys and traps. Within the bays and bayous recreational crabbers may use no more than six (6) crab traps per household. The taking of crabs with drop nets is permitted without a license.
(3) It is unlawful to catch, hold or have in possession any female sponge crab or any female crab bearing visible eggs at any time within marine waters. It is not unlawful to catch those crabs unintentionally, if the crabs are immediately returned to the water.
SECTION 17. The following shall be codified as Section 49-15-86, Mississippi Code of 1972:
49-15-86. (1) Each person catching or taking any saltwater crabs in the waters of the State of Mississippi for commercial purposes shall obtain a license from the commission and shall pay 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.
(2) The commission may require a recreational crabber's license for an administrative fee not to exceed Five Dollars ($5.00).
SECTION 18. Section 49-15-15, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
49-15-15. (1) In addition to any other powers and duties authorized by law, the commission shall have the following powers and duties regarding the regulation of seafood:
(a) To exercise full jurisdiction and authority over all marine aquatic life and to regulate any matters pertaining to seafood, including cultivated seafood;
(b) To adopt, promulgate, amend or repeal, after due notice and public hearing, in accordance with the Mississippi Administrative Procedures Law and subject to the limitations in subsection (2) of this section, rules and regulations authorized under this chapter, including, but not limited to, rules and regulations necessary for the protection, conservation or propagation of all shrimp, oysters, commercial fish and crabs in the waters under the territorial jurisdiction of the State of Mississippi and for the regulation of gill net and purse seine fishermen. All public hearings under this chapter concerning the regulation of marine resources shall be held in Hancock, Harrison or Jackson counties. Each rule or regulation promulgated under this chapter shall immediately be advertised one (1) time in a newspaper or newspapers having general circulation in counties affected by that regulation. A regulation shall become effective at 6:00 a.m. on the day after its publication;
(c) To * * * regulate all seafood sanitation and processing programs. In the three (3) coastal counties, the * * * sanitation program regulating processing plants and seafood sold in retail stores operating in conjunction with a processing plant or seafood market that primarily deals with seafood is under the exclusive authority of the commission. The commission may also inspect and regulate those areas of any seafood processing plant which process freshwater species at any site where the department inspects seafood processing plants. To effectively and efficiently implement the state seafood sanitation program, the State Health Officer and the executive director of the department shall enter into a memorandum of understanding, which at a minimum, clearly specifies the responsibilities of each agency in implementing the seafood sanitation program, as well as the sharing of information and communication and coordination between the agencies;
(d) To set standards of measure;
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(e) To set requirements for employment of nonenforcement commission employees whose compensation shall be governed by the rules and regulations of the State Personnel Board;
(f) To acquire and dispose of commission equipment and facilities;
(g) To keep proper records of the commission, including an official ordinance book which contains all rules and regulations promulgated by the commission under this chapter;
(h) To enter into advantageous interstate and intrastate agreements with proper officials, which * * * directly or indirectly result in the protection, propagation and conservation of the seafood of the State of Mississippi, or continue any such agreements now in existence;
(i) To arrange, negotiate or contract for the use of available federal, state and local facilities which would aid in the propagation, protection and conservation of the seafood of the State of Mississippi;
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(j) To authorize the operation of double rigs in the waters lying between the mainland coast and the island chain, and those rigs shall not exceed a length of twenty-five (25) feet at the cork line, and to prescribe the length at the lead line for each rig, net or try-trawl;
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(k) To destroy or dispose of equipment or nets which have been lawfully seized by the commission and which are not sold under to Section 49-15-65; * * *
(l) To open, close and regulate fishing seasons for the taking of shrimp, oysters, fish taken for commercial purposes and crabs and set size, catching and taking regulations for all types of seafood and culling regulations for oysters, except as otherwise specifically provided by law;
(m) To utilize the resources of the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory to the fullest extend possible; and
(n) To develop a resource management plan to preserve our seafood resources and to ensure a safe supply of these resources.
(2) The commission shall not adopt rules, regulations or ordinances pertaining to marine resources which are more stringent than federal regulations. In any case where federal laws and regulations are silent on a matter pertaining to marine resources, the laws and regulations of the State of Mississippi shall control. The commission shall review all marine resource ordinances for compliance with the no more stringent standard and revise any ordinances more stringent than this standard no later than December 31, 1992. This subsection shall not apply to rules, regulations or ordinances pertaining to the wild stock of marine fin fish.
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SECTION 19. Section 49-15-29, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
49-15-29. (1) The commission shall assess and collect, license fees and taxes as authorized under this chapter.
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(2) All commercial licenses provided for under this chapter that relate to the taking of seafood shall be purchased from May 1 through April 30 at the fees herein provided. The licenses shall expire on April 30 following the date of issuance.
(3) When an application for an original or renewal license of any kind authorized by this chapter is received by the commission, the commission shall determine whether the vessel or related equipment subject to that license is owned and operated in compliance with applicable federal and state laws. If the commission determines that a vessel or its owner is not in compliance with applicable federal and state laws, then no license shall be issued or renewed for the operation of that vessel for a period of one (1) year. All licenses shall be made available for purchase at any building which is regularly operated by the department or commission on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
(4) The commission may authorize any person, other than a salaried employee of the state * * * to issue any license under this chapter which the commission deems appropriate. The authorized person may collect and retain for issuance of the license the sum of One Dollar ($1.00) in addition to the license fee * * * provided in this chapter. 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 that license by the authorized person and the procedure for collection of license fees by and from the authorized person.
SECTION 20. Section 49-15-30, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
49-15-30. (1) The commission may promulgate rules and regulations for nonresident permits in order to promote reciprocal agreements with other states.
(2) The commission shall provide that residents of other states bordering on the Gulf of Mexico who are applicants for a commercial fishing license of any type as provided for in this chapter shall pay the same fee or fees that a resident of this state pays in this state for that license if the respective applicant's domicile state does not charge a greater fee or fees for a Mississippi resident than for a resident of any other state to engage in a like activity in the other state. If the applicant's domicile state does charge a greater fee or fees for residents of Mississippi than for a resident of the applicant's domicile state, then that applicant shall pay the same fee or fees that the applicant's domicile state charges residents of Mississippi.
(3) Any nonresident who engages in the commercial taking of seafood within the territorial waters of Mississippi without having the required nonresident commercial license is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) and shall forfeit any equipment, gear or nets used in the offense.
SECTION 21. Section 49-15-31, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
49-15-31. (1) The commission may construct, maintain and operate all patrol stations, camps and related facilities as may be deemed necessary by the commission.
(2) If a regulatory agency of a foreign state establishes a station or checkpoint through which Mississippi residents must pass for license, permit or catch inspection, or otherwise, the department shall establish similar stations or checkpoints through which residents of the foreign states shall be required to pass.
SECTION 22. Section 49-15-37, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
49-15-37. By order of the commission, the director, under the direction and control of the commission, shall employ boats, crews and laborers and shall cultivate the public reefs of the state, and shall dredge the oysters in the Mississippi Sound from places where they are too thick, and shall spread them on reefs where they are too thin, and shall carry shells from the factories and spread them in places where the oyster beds can be improved and enlarged * * *. The department may purchase * * * other materials as may be equally suitable for the propagation of oysters. The department in cultivating the reefs, transplanting and spreading oysters and shells and other suitable materials, may expend * * * any funds available for that purpose * * *. In taking seed oysters, care shall * * * be used * * * to not injure or destroy the merchantable oysters on the reefs from which they are taken. * * * The seed oysters shall * * * be tonged from the "conner" or seed reefs, unless it is practicable and safe to dredge those oysters. The commission may, by orders spread * * * on its minutes, * * * establish new bedding grounds at those places within the boundaries of the state as it may determine, on advice of the director, or on advice of technical governmental experts, or competent aquatic biologists. On existing public reefs in which oysters exist and in waters * * * not of a safe sanitary quality as determined by the department, the commission shall prohibit any person, firm or corporation from taking oysters from those areas. * * * The commission shall from time to time remove the oysters from the areas and re-lay or replant them in an approved area for a period of time under Section 49-15-36 before they may be harvested. * * * The commission may transport the oysters to an onshore, molluscan depuration facility for the purpose of proving depuration technology and for other experimental purposes. In connection with the testing of onshore, molluscan depuration technology, the commission may sell or dispose of the re-layed oysters in a manner consistent with all applicable state and federal laws and regulations. * * * Any funds received from the sale of the oysters shall be used in a like manner as those funds received under Section 49-15-38.
If the commission finds * * * that onshore, molluscan depuration technology proves to be successful, the commission may issue permits to private enterprise which may locate depuration facilities in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson Counties. The commission shall promulgate rules and regulations for the taking of oysters from reefs for transport to an onshore, molluscan depuration facility and for the operation of the facilities. Each depuration facility operated by private enterprise shall return oyster shells to the oyster reefs for replanting under the proper supervision of the department and under Section 49-15-38.
The commission may issue permits to persons to remove oysters by dredging or otherwise from water bottoms which are not of a safe sanitary quality for oysters * * * for human consumption even though those areas may have been reserved for tonging only in * * * Section 49-15-39. These areas shall be designated as seed grounds, and permits to persons shall be issued only for the purpose of transplanting oysters to privately leased Mississippi territorial waters * * *. The commission may permit the transplanting of these seed oysters by a duly authorized public agency.
The commission may, upon certification of the department that the water bottom from which oysters are to be removed is not of a safe, sanitary quality for oyster production for human consumption and has been * * * unsafe for a period of at least one (1) year immediately preceding certification, and upon complying with the following requirements, permit the dredging of oysters from contaminated public areas and re-laying the * * * oysters to private leased grounds in the State of Mississippi:
(a) Permittee must hold valid lease of oyster bedding grounds in the State of Mississippi;
(b) Permittee must be bonded in compliance with the permit system established by the commission;
(c) Permittee must fulfill all permit requirements as established by the commission;
(d) Permittee shall not move oysters from one (1) contaminated area to another contaminated area;
(e) Permittee shall move oysters only to an area leased by the commission after April 13, 1977; and
(f) Permittee shall not move oysters from the contaminated area without the presence of a conservation officer * * * at all times, from the dredging of the oysters from the contaminated areas to their deposit on private leased grounds or to an onshore, molluscan depuration facility.
Harvesting of oysters shall be permitted only during daylight hours and with the most efficient gear possible consistent with conservation requirements of not damaging the reefs. This shall include permission to use two (2) dredges per boat on contaminated areas and on private leased grounds.
Any person obtaining a permit to remove oysters from seed grounds shall post a penal bond of One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) per leased acre with the commission to be forfeited upon any violation of this section. The bond may be approved by the director of the department if the director finds the bond to be secured by sufficient property or sureties.
The commission shall regulate the amount and time of taking of oysters from seed areas and shall supervise the removal, planting and harvesting of oysters from the areas. The time * * * set for the taking of oysters from contaminated seed areas for re-laying or replanting and the time * * * set for the taking of oysters from private leased grounds shall be separated by not less than a period of time determined under Section 49-15-36 during which neither activity may be allowed.
The commission shall regulate the taking of oysters from contaminated seed areas and the subsequent depuration of the oysters by off-bottom techniques * * * to protect public health, while at the same time fostering the utilization of the state's oyster resources. The regulations shall include the setting of the period of depuration for the oysters by the use of appropriate techniques and provide for a conservation officer to be present when the oysters are taken from contaminated seed areas and deposited on private lease grounds. Any person, firm or corporation engaged in the depuration of oysters by * * * off-bottom techniques or onshore, molluscan depuration facility shall pay to the department an amount equal to the regular compensation of the conservation officer for the time the officer actually spends performing the duties * * *.
Only persons who have been residents of Mississippi for at least five (5) years shall be eligible to obtain permits for removal of oysters from seed grounds.
The commission shall designate certain uncontaminated reefs in the state as public reefs and shall remove oysters from water bottoms which are not of a safe, sanitary quality for oyster production for human consumption and shall transport the oysters to the public reefs which shall be reserved for tonging only.
SECTION 23. Section 49-15-83, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
49-15-83. Nothing in Sections 49-15-71 through 49-15-81 shall be interpreted to circumvent or diminish the powers of the commission in the exercise of its jurisdiction and authority as provided under this chapter.
SECTION 24. Section 49-15-96, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
49-15-96. Vessels licensed under Section 49-15-64.5 may keep and clean, tenderloin or fillet, for personal consumption only the following types of fish which are caught in the shrimp nets or trawls of the vessel: white trout (salmonidae family), ground mullet (muglidae family) and flounder (bothidae and pleuronctide families).
SECTION 25. Any fishery management plan, and any regulation promulgated to implement that plan or promulgated under the state seafood laws, shall be consistent with the following standards for fishery conservation and management:
(a) Conservation and management measures shall be based upon the best scientific information available;
(b) If it becomes necessary to allocate or assign fishing privileges among various fishermen, that allocation shall be (i) fair and equitable to those fishermen, (ii) reasonably calculated to promote conservation, and (iii) carried out in a manner that no particular individual, corporation or other entity acquires an excessive share of the privileges;
(c) Conservation and management measures shall, where practicable, consider efficiency in the utilization of fishery resources, but no measure shall have economic allocation as its sole purpose;
(d) Conservation and management measures shall take into account and allow for variations among, and contingencies in, fisheries, fishery resources, and catches;
(e) Conservation and management measures shall, where practicable, minimize costs and avoid unnecessary duplication;
(f) Conservation and management measures shall, consistent with the conservation requirements of this state (including the prevention of overfishing and rebuilding of overfished stocks), take into account the importance of fishery resources to fishing communities in order to (i) provide for the sustained participation of the communities, and (ii) to the extent practicable, minimize adverse economic impacts on those communities;
(g) Conservation and management measures shall, to the extent practicable, (i) minimize bycatch, and (ii) to the extent bycatch cannot be avoided, minimize the mortality of that bycatch; and
(h) Conservation and management measures shall, to the extent practicable, promote the safety of human life at sea.
SECTION 26. It is the intent of the Legislature that sections dealing with common subject matter shall be compiled in an orderly and effective section numbering system. The Joint Legislative Committee on Compilation, Revision and Publication, in conjunction with the publisher of the Mississippi Code, may revise the section numbers assigned under this act in order to accomplish the purposes of this act.
SECTION 27. Sections 1 and 2 of Senate Bill 2662, 1997 Regular Session, which clarify the duties of the Commission on Marine Resources related to seafood sanitation programs and establish the effective date, are repealed.
SECTION 28. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 2, 1997.