1998 Regular Session
To: Conservation and Water Resources
By: Representative Compretta
House Bill 1256
(As Sent to Governor)
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 49-15-38, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REMOVE THE REQUIREMENT THAT AN EQUAL AMOUNT OF OYSTER SHELLS BE REPLANTED IN EACH COUNTY; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 49-15-38, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
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. * * *
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1998.