2005 Regular Session
To: Marine Resources
By: Representative Frierson
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 49-15-39, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE SPECIFIC PENALTIES FOR VIOLATING DREDGING LIMITS OF OYSTERS; 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. The commission may authorize the taking of oysters on reefs designated as tonging reefs by dredge, drag or scoop if the commission finds that the dredging, dragging or scooping is necessary to manage the resource properly. Any dredging, dragging or scooping authorized under this section shall be for a specific time period as provided by the commission.
(3) Unless otherwise authorized under this section, any boat or vessel which 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, shall have all oysters on board the boat or vessel declared to be contraband. The oysters 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. * * *
(4) Violation of this section shall be punishable by a fine of not less than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), nor more than Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000.00) or up to one (1) year in the county jail for the first offense, or both. For the second offense, when such offense is committed within a period of three (3) years from the first offense, said violation shall be punishable by a fine not less than Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000.00) nor more than Four Thousand Dollars ($4,000.00), or imprisonment in the county jail for a period not exceeding one (1) year, or both. For any third or subsequent offense when such offense is committed within a period of three (3) years from the first offense, said violation shall be punishable by a fine not less than Three Thousand Dollars ($3,00000) nor more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or be sentenced not to exceed one (1) year in the county jail, or both.
(5) In addition, upon conviction of such third or subsequent offense, it shall be the duty of the court to revoke the license of the convicted party and of the boat or vessel used in such offense, and no further license shall be issued to such person and for said boat to engage in catching or taking of any seafood from the waters of the State of Mississippi for a period of one (1) year following such conviction.
(6) The fine imposed upon a person convicted under this section shall not be suspended or reduced.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2005.