1997 Regular Session

To: Conservation and Water Resources

By: Representative Janus

House Bill 1512



SECTION 1. 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. The commission shall not exercise any law enforcement powers.

(2) The Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources shall consist of seven (7) members to be appointed as follows:

(a) The Governor shall appoint seven (7) members who * * * with the advice and consent of the Senate, of whom two (2) members shall be residents of Jackson County, two (2) members shall be residents of Harrison County and two (2) members shall be residents of Hancock County. One (1) member shall be appointed from the state at large. * * *

(b) None of the members of the commission shall be a commercial seafood processor, a commercial fisherman, a recreational sports fisherman, a charter boat operator or any other person from the seafood industry. One (1) member shall be a member of an incorporated nonprofit environmental organization.

 * * *

(c) Of the initial members appointed by the Governor, one (1) of the two (2) members from each of the three (3) named counties shall serve for an initial term of two (2) years * * *. The other of the two (2) members from each of the named counties and the member from the state at large 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)  * * * 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.

(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 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.

(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) "Seafood industry" means an industry that is involved in the catching, processing or packaging of marine species.

(f) "Recreational sports fisherman" means an individual who catches or harvests marine species only for recreation or personal consumption and not for sale.

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.