2005 Regular Session
To: Ports and Marine Resources
By: Senator(s) Gollott
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 49-15-313, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE CHARTER BOATS ENGAGED IN ECOTOURISM TO MEET THE SAME REQUIREMENTS AS CHARTER BOATS ENGAGED IN FISHING; TO AMEND SECTION 49-15-3, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO DEFINE ECOTOURISM; TO AMEND SECTION 49-15-301, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO CONFORM; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 49-15-313, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
49-15-313. (1) Any resident between the ages of sixteen (16) and sixty-five (65) years, as defined in Section 49-7-3, fishing in the marine waters of the state, shall obtain a saltwater sports fishing license for a fee of Four Dollars ($4.00). This license shall be valid in any waters south of Interstate 10. Any resident citizen who is blind, paraplegic or a multiple amputee, or who has been adjudged by the Veterans Administration as having a total service-connected disability, or has been adjudged totally disabled by the Social Security Administration shall not be required to purchase or have in his possession a saltwater sports fishing license while engaged in such activities. Any resident exempt under this section shall have on his person while fishing proof of residency and age or disability.
(2) The commission shall prescribe the forms, types and fees for nonresident saltwater sports fishing licenses except that the fee for a nonresident saltwater sports fishing license shall not be less than Twenty Dollars ($20.00). The commission shall require a nonresident to purchase a nonresident freshwater fishing license and a nonresident saltwater sports fishing license if the nonresident's state requires both licenses for a nonresident to fish in its marine waters.
(3) All resident vessels engaged in charter boat fishing, party boat fishing, head boat fishing, * * * guide boat fishing, or ecotourism shall be issued a separate annual license by the commission at a fee of Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00). All nonresident vessels engaged in charter boat fishing, party boat fishing, head boat fishing, * * * guide boat fishing, or ecotourism shall be issued a separate annual license by the commission for a fee as provided under Section 49-15-30, Mississippi Code of 1972, but the fee shall be at least Four Hundred Dollars ($400.00). In addition to other requirements for charter license eligibility, captains must show proof of participation in a Department of Transportation approved random drug testing program and proof of liability insurance as a charter boat captain. Crew members and customers of the licensed vessels shall not be required to purchase an individual resident or nonresident saltwater fishing license while sponsored by the licensed vessels. An operator of a licensed vessel shall be required to report the number of customers to the department as required by the commission and the information shall be kept confidential and shall not be released, except to other fisheries management agencies or as statistical data. All nonresident vessels engaged in saltwater sport fishing tournaments, not to exceed an aggregate of twenty (20) days per calendar year, shall not be required to purchase an annual license as provided under this subsection.
(4) The saltwater sports fishing license is required for all recreational methods of finfish harvest.
(5) Any resident who purchases a lifetime sportsman's license, in accordance with Section 49-7-153, shall be entitled to fish in the marine salt waters of the state and shall be exempt from the purchase of a sport saltwater fishing license.
(6) Any person authorized to issue a license may collect and retain, for each saltwater fishing license issued, the additional fee authorized under Section 49-7-17.
(7) The fees collected from the sale of resident and nonresident saltwater sports fishing licenses shall be deposited into the Seafood Fund and shall be used solely for the management of marine resources.
(8) Participants in the Very Special Fishing Olympics are exempt from this section.
(9) July 4 of each year is designated as "Free Saltwater Sports Fishing Day." Any person may saltwater sport fish without a license on the "Free Saltwater Sports Fishing Day."
(10) The department may exempt participants in an organized fishing event conducted by a qualified nonprofit charitable, governmental or civic organization from the requirements of this section for one (1) day per year if the organization files an exemption application with the department and the application is approved by the department.
SECTION 2. Section 49-15-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
49-15-3. As used in this chapter, the term:
(a) "Commission" means the Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources.
(b) "Department" means the Department of Marine Resources.
(c) "Domicile" means a person's principal or primary place of abode in which a person's habitation is fixed and to which the person, whenever absent, has the present intention of returning after a departure of absence therefrom, regardless of the duration of the absence. The burden of proving domicile in the State of Mississippi shall be on the person claiming that status. A person holding a current driver's license shall be deemed to be domiciled within the state issuing the license. If a person does not hold a current driver's license the following evidence may be considered in establishing, but is not necessarily determinative of domicile: residence for income or other tax purposes, homestead exemption receipt or other means prescribed by the commission. In the case of minors, domicile of the parents shall be used as evidence of the minor's domicile.
(d) "Ecotourism" means travel on a vessel for hire powered by motor to areas of natural or ecological interest for the purpose of observing nature.
(e) "Game fish" means cobia, also known as ling or lemonfish (rachycentron canadum). The cobia is classified as game fish.
(f) "Illegal oysters" means:
(i) All untagged shell stock;
(ii) Shell oysters obtained from uncertified shops or dealers or from an unlicensed catcher;
(iii) Oysters obtained from waters not declared safe and sanitary by the department, except those oysters caught by the commission for relaying or under private leases pursuant to Section 49-15-27;
(iv) Shucked oysters obtained from uncertified shops or repackers.
(g) "Inspector" means the chief inspector, the assistant chief inspector, deputy inspector, bureau director and certified enforcement officer employed by the department.
(h) "Natural reefs" means any bottom under the jurisdiction of the commission of one or more acres on which oysters grow naturally, or have grown naturally, in a quantity sufficient to warrant commercial fishing as a means of livelihood, or have been used in such a manner within a period of ten (10) years next preceding the time the bottoms may come up for determination by the commission.
(i) "Resident" means a person, firm or corporation that is domiciled in this state.
(j) "Seafood" means all oysters, saltwater fish, saltwater shrimp, diamondback terrapin, sea turtle, crabs and all other species of marine or saltwater animal life existing or living in the waters within the territorial jurisdiction of the State of Mississippi.
(k) "Tonging reefs" means any bottom under the jurisdiction of the commission designated by the commission as an area in which oysters may be taken by use of hand tongs, as provided in Section 49-15-39.
SECTION 3. Section 49-15-301, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
49-15-301. (1) The Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources is hereby established and full power is vested in the commission to regulate all matters pertaining to all saltwater aquatic life and marine resources. The commission shall administer the Coastal Wetlands Protection Law and the Public Trust Tidelands Act. The power and duties of the commission shall be exercised through the Department of Marine Resources.
(2) On July 1, 2002, the commission shall be reconstituted. The terms of the nonseafood industry member and the member of the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks shall expire July 1, 2002. The remaining five (5) members serving on July 1, 2002 shall compose the reconstituted commission and shall continue to serve until the expiration of their terms. The reconstituted Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources shall consist of five (5) members to be appointed as follows:
(a) The Governor shall appoint five (5) members who shall be residents of Jackson, Harrison and Hancock Counties with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Governor shall appoint at least one (1) member from each county but not more than two (2) members from any one (1) county. The members designated in subparagraphs (i), (ii) and (iv) must be a resident of the county where the business he is appointed to represent is located.
(b) The commission shall be composed as follows:
(i) One (1) member shall be a commercial seafood processor.
(ii) One (1) member shall be a commercial fisherman.
(iii) One (1) member shall be a recreational sports fisherman.
(iv) One (1) member shall be a charter boat operator.
(v) One (1) member shall be a member of an incorporated nonprofit environmental organization.
(c) Of the initial members appointed by the Governor, the members designated in subparagraphs (i), (ii) and (iii) shall serve for an initial term of two (2) years and one (1) member shall be appointed from each county. The members designated in subparagraphs (iv) and (v) shall serve an initial term of four (4) years. All terms after the initial terms shall be for a period of four (4) years.
(d) Any vacancy in the office of an appointed member of the commission shall be filled by appointment by the Governor for the balance of the unexpired term.
(3) Each member shall have a demonstrated history of involvement in the matter of jurisdiction for which he is appointed to represent and his employment and activities must not conflict with the matter of jurisdiction represented. A member shall not have a record of conviction of violation of fish and game or seafood laws or regulations within the five (5) years preceding his appointment or a record of any felony conviction. After July 1, 1999, if a member is convicted of a violation of the seafood laws during his term, his office shall be deemed vacant and the Governor shall fill the vacancy as provided in this section.
(4) The commission shall elect a chairman who shall preside at all meetings of the commission, and the commission shall also elect a vice chairman who shall serve in the absence or inability of the chairman.
(5) Each member shall be paid actual and necessary expenses incurred in attending meetings of the commission and in performing his duties away from his domicile under assignment by the commission. In addition, members shall receive the per diem authorized in Section 25-3-69, Mississippi Code of 1972.
(6) The commission shall adopt rules and regulations governing times and places of meetings and shall adopt bylaws governing the manner of conducting its business. Each member shall take the oath prescribed by Section 268 of the Mississippi Constitution of 1890 and shall, before assuming office, enter into bond in the amount of Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00), to be approved by the Secretary of State conditioned according to law and payable to the State of Mississippi.
(7) The commission shall not take any action, except by vote in meeting assembled, and such action shall be included in the minutes of the commission. A majority of the members shall constitute a quorum of the commission.
(8) The commission, through the Department of Marine Resources, shall devise a plan to make licenses available in each coastal county.
(9) (a) There is hereby created a marine resources technical advisory council composed of the Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Research Lab, or his designee; the Executive Director of the Department of Environmental Quality, or his designee; and the Executive Director of the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, or his designee.
(b) The council shall give technical assistance to the commission.
(10) For purposes of this section the following definitions apply:
(a) "Charter boat operator" means an individual who operates a vessel for hire guiding sports fishermen or ecotourism trips for a fee and is duly licensed to engage in such activity in the State of Mississippi.
(b) "Commercial fisherman" means a fisherman who sells, barters or exchanges any or all of his catch or who is paid for attempting to catch marine species, and is duly licensed to engage in commercial fishing.
(c) "Commercial seafood processor" means an individual who engages in the business of purchasing seafood products and preparing them for resale and who is duly licensed to engage in such commercial activity in the State of Mississippi.
(d) "Incorporated environmental nonprofit organization" means an organization duly incorporated in any state as a nonprofit organization and whose stated goals and purposes are the conservation of natural resources.
(e) "Recreational sports fisherman" means an individual who catches or harvests marine species only for recreation or personal consumption and not for sale. The individual must possess a saltwater sports fishing license, be a member of an incorporated nonprofit sports fishing organization and not possess a commercial fishing or seafood processor license.
SECTION 4. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2005.