MISSISSIPPI LEGISLATURE

1998 Regular Session

To: Conservation and Water Resources

By: Representative McBride

House Bill 1574

AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 49-15-39, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO MAKE IT ILLEGAL FOR A LICENSED OYSTER BOAT TO DEPOSIT OYSTERS IN A SKIFF OR OTHER BOAT THAT IS TOWED BEHIND THE LICENSED OYSTER BOAT; TO SET A LIMIT ON THE ALLOWABLE CATCH OF OYSTERS BY A LICENSED OYSTER BOAT AT THIRTY SACKS PER DAY; TO PROVIDE THAT IN CALCULATING SUCH LIMIT, ANY OYSTERS FOUND IN A TOWED SKIFF OR BOAT SHALL BE COUNTED; TO PROVIDE PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS THEREOF; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES. 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:

SECTION 1. Section 49-15-39, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

49-15-39. (1) It is unlawful for any person to catch or take oysters by means of dredging in any of the waters designated as tonging reefs by the commission.

(2) The commission shall designate certain areas as tonging reefs. The commission shall mark the boundaries of the areas designated by appropriate poles, stakes or buoys of material that will not injure watercraft, and the boundaries, when designated by the commission, shall be final unless shown to be incorrect by a proceeding which may be brought by any person interested in the chancery court of the county adjacent to the area.

(3) If any boat or vessel catches or takes oysters by means of dredges, drags or scoops, other than hand tongs, from any of the areas described in this section, or with a dredge or dredges in the water, then all oysters on board the boat or vessel are hereby declared to be contraband and shall be taken and confiscated by the department or any marine law enforcement officer without court procedure. The captain and crew of the boat or vessel, promptly upon being ordered so to do, shall transport the oysters to a point on the public reefs of the state where the boat or vessel is found and there scatter the oysters according to the instructions of the enforcement officers. Any person who violates this section shall be punished as provided in Section 49-15-63.

(4) (a) If any boat or vessel that is licensed to catch, take, carry or transport oysters from state reefs catches or takes oysters by any means and deposits those oysters in a small skiff or other boat that is towed behind such boat or vessel, then all oysters on board the licensed boat or vessel and on board the additional skiff or boat being towed are declared to be contraband and shall be taken and confiscated by the department or any marine law enforcement officer without court procedure.

(b) The limits on the allowable catch of oysters by any boat or vessel that is licensed to catch, take, carry or transport oysters from state reefs is thirty (30) sacks per day. In calculating the allowable catch, oysters found on any skiffs or boats being towed behind the licensed boat or vessel shall be counted. If the limits on the allowable catch are exceeded, then all oysters on board the licensed boat or vessel and on any skiff or boat being towed behind such boat or vessel are declared to be contraband and shall be taken and confiscated by the department or any marine law enforcement officer without court procedure.

(c) The captain and crew of any licensed boat or vessel found in violation of paragraphs (a) or (b) of this subsection, promptly upon being ordered to do so, shall transport the oysters to a point on the public reefs of the state and scatter the oysters according to the instructions of the enforcement officers. Any person who violates paragraphs (a) or (b) of this subsection shall be punished as provided in Section 49-15-63.

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1998.