Gov. Phil Bryant announced six coastal projects in mid-March totaling more than $23 million that will be funded through the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA).
Crews offload shell and limestone (oyster cultch) that will form the basis for new oyster reefs in Alabama’s Mobile Bay.
In total, the State of Mississippi will receive over $27 million, including $2.3 million for Jackson County, $2.15 million for Harrison County, and $1.05 million for Hancock County. The passage in 2006 of GOMESA provides a portion of the royalties from offshore oil and gas exploration to help restore the coastal waters of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas for hurricane protection. The balance of the funds are designated for specific projects on the coast that will be overseen by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR). The six projects outlined by Governor Bryant include:
- ($4.95 million) To begin the replacement of seven stormwater outfall pipes along the sand beaches of Harrison County to reduce the overall number of stormwater outfalls.
- ($760,000) Begin construction of MDMR’s Marine Fisheries Dry Laboratory, bringing enhanced water quality analysis directly to Mississippi’s coast.
- ($1 million) Provide additional oyster cultch for repair of the diminishing oyster population. Areas to receive the cultch plant include the Western Mississippi Sound, Eastern Mississippi Sound and Biloxi Bay areas.
- ($3 million) Add 60 million oysters to the Mississippi Sound, providing stock and increasing spat over time. These oysters will be placed across the Mississippi Sound to enhance future growth of oysters in different areas.
- ($6,688,944) Funding for the tramway will compliment local and federal funds already dedicated to the project. The project will connect Jones Park to the Mississippi Aquarium Campus using emissions-free transit services and bringing new educational and recreational opportunities to the area.
- ($7 million) Ocean Enterprise Project at the Port of Gulfport will bring together state, federal, and industry partners to solve challenging problems in the area of national and homeland defense, infrastructure security, environmental monitoring, disaster response, offshore aquaculture, and habitat characterization.
The Mississippi Wildlife Federation (MWF) continues to support the use of offshore oil and gas royalties through GOMESA for conservation efforts and hopes to see an increase in these funds in future years. The efforts of GOMESA provide an important and guaranteed stream of funding for conservation and restoration projects in coastal communities. MWF continues to work with state officials to advocate for projects that have clear ecological and environmental benefits, furthering the goals of coastal conservation, restoration, and hurricane protection outlined in GOMESA.
The Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017 (Modern Fish Act), the first ever sportfishing focused legislation to pass through Congress, is headed to President Trump’s desk for his signature. The legislation makes critical updates to the oversight of federal fisheries and provides managers with new tools to manage these fisheries.
The passage of the legislation demonstrates the importance of recreational saltwater fishing to the nation. More than 11 million saltwater anglers contribute a $63 billion in annual economic impact and support 440,000 jobs. In addition, recreational anglers and boaters contribute $1.3 billion annually through excise taxes and licensing fees, most of which goes toward conservation, boating safety and infrastructure, and habitat restoration. Accordingly, healthy fisheries and access for recreational fishermen are vital.
The Modern Fish Act will provide more stability and better access for anglers by:
- Providing authority and direction to NOAA Fisheries to apply additional management tools more appropriate for recreational fishing, many of which are successfully implemented by state fisheries agencies (e.g., extraction rates, fishing mortality targets, harvest control rules, or traditional or cultural practices of native communities);
- Improving recreational harvest data collection by requiring federal managers to explore other data sources that have tremendous potential to improve the accuracy and timeliness of harvest estimates, such as state-driven programs and electronic reporting (e.g., through smartphone apps);
- Requiring the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct a study on the process of mixed-use fishery allocation review by the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Regional Fishery Management Councils and report findings to Congress within one year of enactment of the Modern Fish Act, and
- Requiring the National Academies of Sciences to complete a study and provide recommendations within two years of the enactment of the Modern Fish Act on limited access privilege programs (catch shares) including an assessment of the social, economic, and ecological effects of the program, considering each sector of a mixed-use fishery and related businesses, coastal communities, and the environment and an assessment of any impacts to stakeholders in a mixed-use fishery caused by a limited access privilege program. This study excludes the Pacific and North Pacific Regional Fishery Management Councils.
MWF would like to thank Senator Wicker for his leadership in introducing the Modern Fish Act in July 2017 and continuing to fight for its passage and for recreational anglers. We also appreciate the help of our Mississippi delegation to push this land mark legislation over the finish line to improve access and fisheries for recreational anglers.
The 2019 Youth Squirrel Hunt will take place on Saturday, February 9, 2019 at eight different statewide locations and registration is currently open. These hunts were developed to introduce youth ages 10 – 15 to hunting and conservation. Youth and their accompanying adults will learn about the role of hunting in wildlife conservation, hunting ethics, wildlife biology and firearm safety. Then head to the woods on a real hunt!
The events are provided by the Mississippi Wildlife Federation, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at no cost to participants!
During the one-day events, youth participants will be exposed to principles of hunting and firearms safety, squirrel hunting with dogs, and the daily life of squirrels and their habitats.
CLICK HERE to Register your Youth(s) for the 2019 Squirrel Hunt!
Contact Joshua Friedel at 601-605-1790 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org if needed.