2005 Regular Session

To: Marine Resources

By: Representative Frierson, Read

House Bill 668



     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, or ecotourism fishing shall be issued a separate annual license by the commission for a fee of an amount in accordance with Section 49-15-30 or a minimum of Four Hundred Dollars ($400).  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 an inboard or outboard 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 re-laying 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.  This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2005.