The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) is pleased to announce the recent update of its on-bottom shellfish regulations. These changes were made possible by the passage of Senate Bill 2544 during the Mississippi Legislature 2023 Regular Session. The updated regulations now allow private individuals or businesses to lease previously inaccessible water bottoms, fostering a sustainable framework for shellfish production in Mississippi while ensuring compliance with environmental and conservation requirements.
Please explore these helpful documents to learn more about the On-Bottom Molluscan Shellfish Leasing Process.
One of the primary objectives of the updated regulations is to encourage private individuals or businesses to lease and develop water bottoms, thereby increasing oyster production in Mississippi. By creating leasing opportunities, the regulations aim to stimulate economic development within the shellfish industry. This includes job creation, revenue generation, and support for associated industries such as hatcheries, processing facilities, and seafood markets. The overall goal is to promote the prosperity of coastal communities and foster a thriving shellfish industry in the state. The updated regulations are designed to establish a vibrant and sustainable shellfish industry. They emphasize responsible cultivation practices, ensuring the long-term protection of the marine environment for future generations.
Through the MDMR’s “Request for Proposals” process, interested parties can apply for shellfish leases. The application period will open on July 21, 2023, at 8:00 am and close on August 4, 2023, at 4:00 pm.
For a comprehensive understanding of the updated regulations, interested parties can access detailed information below.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
The MDMR has established lease conditions to ensure the sustainable cultivation and gathering of shellfish, while promoting responsible practices and compliance with regulations. These conditions outline various requirements that lessees must fulfill to obtain and maintain leases for shellfish cultivation.
- Leases are granted for a term of fifteen (15) years, with the lessee having the right to renew the lease for an additional fifteen (15) years and subsequent renewals at fifteen-year intervals, as long as the lessee actively cultivates and gathers shellfish, complies with all provisions, and possesses necessary permits and licenses.
- The proposed lease area must be located in growing waters classified as approved, conditionally approved, or restricted.
- If a lessee is unable to gather shellfish from the leased area due to a storm or natural phenomenon, they may renew the lease if they actively work the bottoms during the remaining term or renewal term.
- Lease agreements issued before or after July 1 of each year are prorated from the lease date until the following expiration, which is fifteen (15) years from the lease date.
- All leases expire on December 31 of the expiration year.
- To renew the lease, the lessee must submit a written application with payment of annual or prorated rental for the subsequent lease period within thirty (30) days of the lease expiration date to the MDMR Business Office.
- Each on-bottom lease application should be for one (1) acre, not exceeding 2,500 acres.
- The leasing rate for acreage is set at three dollars ($3.00) per acre per year.
- The proposed lease area must have a continuous border.
- The proposed lease area should be configured as a square or rectangle, with the lease area boundaries meeting at right angles. However, the lease rent can be adjusted proportionally to conform to non-rectangular shapes within the lease area.
- The length of the proposed lease area should not exceed twice the width of the lease area.
- No proposed lease areas will be approved if they are within 100 yards of an existing lease area or a lease area pending final approval, unless the same person holds both leases.
- Lease of areas designated as state-owned reefs, as defined in Title 22 Part 1, for shellfish harvest by the MDMR is not permitted.
- Leases must actively ensure maximum cultivation and propagation of oysters throughout their term. The applicant must not commence any activities on the lease until all applicable permits, including MDMR wetlands permits, have been obtained. Failure to obtain permits indicates that the lease is not active.
- Appropriate poles, stakes, or buoys, constructed of non-injurious material, should mark all leases at the expense of the leaseholder.
- Each leaseholder must mark at least the four corners of each lease with appropriate markers and maintain them. Each marker must indicate the lease number and marker position (e.g., southeast (SE) corner).
- Leaseholders must comply with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations, including environmental and conservation requirements, throughout the lease term.
BEFORE YOU APPLY
Use this online viewer to help determine the coordinates for your Request for Proposals.
HOW TO APPLY
To apply for a “Lease Agreement for Oyster Production” in Mississippi, all applicants are required to complete the “Request for Proposals” application and submit to the MDMR.
There are two ways to complete and submit the “Request for Proposals” application beginning on July 21, 2023 at 8:00 a.m. CST.
The application period is closed as of 4:00 P.M. on August 4, 2023.
Download and complete the “Request for Proposals” application. Submission information is below.
Submit completed “Request for Proposals” application in person to the MDMR Licensing Office on the first floor at the Bolton Building:
1141 Bayview Ave
Biloxi, MS 39530
A non-refundable application fee of $50 is required for each application. Please ensure that you bring cash or a check for payment.
Application packets may also be picked up at the Bolton Building.
Complete the online “Request for Proposals” application. Applicants may apply and make the required payment using the link below.
The application process involves providing detailed information and fulfilling specific requirements.
- Application Fee: A non-refundable application fee of $50 must be paid at the time of submission. The receipt time and date will be noted on the application.
- Residency Requirement: Applicants must be residents of the State of Mississippi or be organized as a business entity (corporation, limited liability company, etc.) under Mississippi laws and registered with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office.
- Proposed Lease Location: Applicants will be required to submit the proposed coordinates of the water bottoms being registered. Lease Latitudes/Longitudes must be in Decimal Degrees.
- Cultch Material Description: A description of the cultch material to be used and the amount to be deployed should be included in the application. Cultch material refers to substances like shells or rocks used to create a habitat for shellfish.
- Proposed Acreage: The application should outline the proposed acreage to be leased.
- Property Classification: Identification of the classification of the property for lease should be specified. On-Bottom Property Classifications are as follows:
- Class I – Substantial Shellfish Resource/Recently Improved Bottoms
- Class II – Minimal Shellfish Resource/Improved Bottoms
- Class III – No Resource/Unimproved Bottoms
- Financial Stability: Applicants must certify to their financial stability that will enable them to meet the program requirements. Applicants may be requested to provide evidence of financial stability at a later date if the need arises.
- Cultivation Details: The application should outline the proposed amount of acreage that will be cultched/seeded. The timeframe for cultivation on the proposed lease should also be indicated.
- Experience in Reef Development: Applicants are required to provide details of their experience in reef development, highlighting any relevant expertise or past projects.
By submitting a comprehensive and complete application, applicants increase their chances of being considered for a shellfish lease. The information provided in the “Request for Proposals” application will be evaluated by the MDMR based on the criteria outlined in the application process. It’s important to note that additional information may be requested by the MDMR, and site visits may be conducted as part of the evaluation process.
Overall, the lease application process ensures that applicants provide all necessary information and demonstrate their suitability and commitment to responsible shellfish cultivation and development in Mississippi’s waters.
APPLICATION REVIEW AND EVALUATION
The MDMR will undertake a comprehensive review and evaluation process for each lease application to ensure a fair and transparent selection process. The evaluation is based on the information provided in the application and the response to the “Request for Proposals.” Approval of lease applications is contingent upon meeting the criteria outlined in the “Request for Proposals” and the thorough evaluation conducted by the MDMR.
During the evaluation process, the MDMR may request additional information from applicants or conduct site visits to gather more detailed insights. This allows the MDMR to assess the suitability of the proposed lease areas and ensure compliance with established guidelines.
By implementing this review and evaluation process, the MDMR aims to maintain a high standard of transparency, and compliance in the lease application procedure. It enables the MDMR to make informed decisions based on comprehensive assessments, ultimately supporting the sustainable cultivation and propagation of shellfish and the responsible management of Mississippi’s marine resources.
MDMR staff will review the applications for compliance with guidelines and completeness.
- The MDMR will inform the applicant in writing of the lease application’s status no less than 30 days after the Request for Proposals.
- Upon approval of the lease application, the applicant must enter into a lease agreement with the MDMR, which outlines the terms and conditions, including rental rates, lease duration, and reporting requirements.
If you have any questions or need further information please contact Jason Rider @ 228-523-4037 or firstname.lastname@example.org.