CCA Mississippi calls for action on speckled trout
Anglers urge state managers to undo damaging regulations
A controversial decision to lower the minimum size limit for speckled trout to 13 inches eight years ago has resulted in exactly the kind of stock decline that recreational anglers feared at the time. Now, with a stock assessment showing that Mississippi’s speckled trout are indeed in trouble, the Mississippi Chapter of Coastal Conservation Association is calling on the Commission on Marine Resources to reverse course and take the necessary steps to put the fishery back on solid footing.
“Eight years ago, we were very much opposed when managers took an awfully risky position with its trout regulations and now that unfortunate decision has come home to roost,” said F. J. Eicke, chairman of CCA Mississippi’s Government Relations Committee. “We’ve taken a giant step backwards with a resource that is cherished by anglers, but now we have an opportunity to work with the state to set things right and we shouldn’t waste any more time.”
A stock assessment conducted by the state in 2016 has documented that the Percent Spawning Potential Ratio (SPR), a metric used by scientists that defines the available stock left in the water after catch and normal mortality, has dipped to about 10 percent, half of what it was prior to the minimum size decrease.
“At 13 inches it is clear that too many fish are being caught and kept before they have a chance to spawn even once. If you remove fish before they can spawn, catastrophic declines are inevitable,” said Eicke. “Fortunately, trout can rebuild relatively quickly if state managers will put the proper conservation measures back in place. They dug quite a hole for trout that we have to climb out of now, so tools like increasing the minimum size or decreasing the bag limit should all be on the table.”
The Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources will hear a presentation on the speckled trout assessment and discuss new regulations at its meeting at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at the Bolton Building on Biloxi's Bayview Avenue. CCA Mississippi will present its position statement at that meeting and recreational anglers are encouraged to attend.