Stories From Tricky Dicks Tackle Box: Help Gulf Coast Fisherman

Unfortunately, many of our Mississippi Recreational Fishermen are not aware of the activities and merits of the Mississippi Coastal Conservation Association (MCCA). With another great fishing season just around the corner, I thought I would write a few lines about the what’s and where’s of the organization.

MCCA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and is recognized as the pre-eminent marine conservation association representing the interests of recreational saltwater anglers. It is a volunteer grassroots organization with seven local chapters with only one full time paid staff member to assist in coordination of our mission to protect and embrace our marine resources for the use of current and future generations. (Folks, that includes our grandkids and great grandkids!) MCCA, continues to focus on advocacy efforts, youth programs, (CASTING FOR CONSERVATION), habitat protection and resource enhancement and is active in both national and local issues impacting recreational anglers. For years, MCCA, especially the Gulf Coast chapters, have worked diligently to keep abreast of the issues, activities and regulations having a direct impact upon our recreational fishermen. This includes daily observation of any changes of policy or marine regulations and not only for information purposes, but to also attempt to have some input on the decision making. Recent activity is the Rigs To Reefs proposal. CCA is in strong opposition to the removal of the remains of the former oil rigs, in that in the removal of the underwater structures many of the existing marine life is destroyed plus it now provides a perfect natural fishing reef

Now, what has and is happening in our local area? Last month, the Annual Saltwater Sportsman National Seminar Series, featuring renowned angling authority, George Poveromo, was held in Biloxi and CCA had a booth promoting membership, selling T-shirts, CCA stickers, cooler drawing and various other CCA articles. Last week, the annual Biloxi Boat & RV Show was held at the Coast Coliseum and CCA held the first RedTrout Tournament in partnership with the Biloxi Boat and RV show, Coastal Angler Magazine, and Everything Kayak. Proceeds are being used to generate funds to support MCCA Scholarships for graduate student work at the Gulf Coast Research Lab. The tournament featured Adult, Youth, and Kayak divisions for speckled trout and redfish. A great captainÕs meeting was held the night before at the IP Casino and the final weigh-in was held on Saturday afternoon at the Show.

An added attraction was the Gulf Coast Research Lab and the Dept. of Marine Resources booth was directly beside the CCA booth. They had live juvenile fish from the S.P.E.C program, which MCCA has helped support. In general the entire weekend was a Winner for MCCA.

The Bay Chapter, (Bay Saint Louis/Waveland area} has been the strongest chapter the past few years and has promoted MCCA with commendable effort. The Seatrout Population Enhancement Cooperative (S.P.E.C.) program mentioned previously has been a major project for the organization, with the Bay Chapter taking it to a new level by involving students in the ST. Stanislaus High School Marine Science Program. The student now have the opportunity to assist in the study of speckled trout fingerlings that are being released into Mississippi waters. A significant number of the speckled trout released are implanted with an internal coded-wire tag that at a later time is critical in the assessment phase of the program. In turn, the students will be monitoring tag retention in fingerlings in classroom tanks for a year (longer than is typically done at the Gulf Coast Research Lab. GCRL) and comparing the results to those from the studies at GCRL.

A few additional MCCA activities include:

  1. Live Catch Trout Tournaments – In support of the Gulf Coast Research Labs hatchery * Youth Fishing Tournaments – Conducting Casting for Conservation Kids fishing rodeos across the Mississippi Coast, plus a unique new Fish Fest youth tournament added this year.
  2. Youth Scholarships – Providing scholarships and support for undergraduate and graduate student studying in fields related to recreational fisheries and marine environment.
  3. Government Relations – Consistently engaging with the Commission on Marine Resources and state agencies on matters impacting recreational fishermen.
  4. Coastal Cleanup – Actively participating in the annual Mississippi Coastal Cleanup.
  5. BP Recovery – Ensuring the restoration funds are maximized for coastal fisheries.
  6. Federally Managed Fish Stocks – Participating with the Gulf Council to protect the interest of recreational anglers in managing important fish stocks such as red snapper, amberjack and other species subject to federal management.
  7. Sector Separation – Providing national leadership to fight for recreational fishing rights and oppose s sector separation plans that would result in a loss of recreational catch quotas. (Gulf Coast Fishermen should take note and be aware of what is happening or could happen if we donÕt get behind our Mississippi Coast Conservation Association and provide monetary and in-kind support.) You can do this by becoming a member of the local chapter closest to you and attending the various chapters annual banquet. These banquets are the major single fund-raiser of the year. The next such banquet is early this month and will be held by the Biloxi Bay Chapter on Friday, April 5th at the Dr. Frank Gruich Community Center located on Howard Ave. in Biloxi.

TODAY! ! ! !