2005 Regular Session
To: Ports and Marine Resources; Judiciary, Division B
By: Senator(s) Gollott
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 49-15-39, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE INCREASED PENALTIES FOR DREDGING TONGING REEFS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
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) A violation of this section is punishable by a fine of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00). For a second offense when the offense is committed within a period of three (3) years from the first offense, the violation is punishable by a fine of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00). For a third or subsequent offense when the offense is committed within a period of three (3) years from the first offense, the violation is punishable by a fine of Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000.00).
(5) In addition, upon conviction of a third or subsequent offense within three (3) years of the first offense, it shall be the duty of the court to revoke the license of the convicted party and of the vessel used in the offense, and no license shall be issued to that person or for the vessel to engage in the catching or taking of any seafood from the waters of this state for a period of one (1) year following the conviction.
(6) The fine imposed 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.