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SPORT FISH - FISHERY PROJECTS
SPORT FISH RESTORATION

The Sport Fish Restoration (SFR) program administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides grants to states’ natural resource agencies for projects related to sport fish species, boating access and aquatic education. This program was authorized by the Sport Fish Restoration Act of 1950. The SFR program was created to restore and better manage declining sport fish fishery resources. An excise tax is collected through the purchases of fishing equipment, boat and small engine fuels and import duties, and appropriated to states based on a formula which includes land area and number of paid license holders. This makes the SFR program one of the most successful user pay, user benefit programs. A simple explanation of the SFR program is that abundant, sustainable fish populations yield abundant and diverse fishing opportunities leading to increased sales of fishing tackle. Increased sales of fishing tackle provide more funding to maintain sport fish fisheries at sustainable levels creating a cycle where all participants benefit.

MARINE FISHERIES RESEARCH PROJECTS

Assessment of Red Drum – The goal of this project is to provide data about age-3 to age-5 Red Drum in Mississippi coastal waters to better understand escapement rate, length-at-age, age-at-maturity and describe movement and habitat utilization at early life stages. Movement and habitat utilization are tracked by acoustic tags attached to juvenile, sub-adult and adult red drum inside and in proximity to the Back Bay of Biloxi. These acoustic tags are placed in the stomach cavity and set to send out signals every minute. A blue external dart tag is placed under the dorsal fin. The location of a tagged fish is recorded every time the fish swims in proximity of the acoustic receivers that make up the array.

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) has tagged 45 Red Drum in Biloxi Bay. If a tagged fish is caught, anglers are encouraged to release the tagged fish. However, no regulations prohibit keeping a legal tagged fish. Anglers are requested to report the location of the catch and length of the fish. To report a tagged fish, please call the MDMR Sport Fish hotline number at 844-704-2359 or the MDMR office at 228-374-5000.

Mississippi Coastal Sport Fish Studies – This project provides scientific information necessary for sound management of selected recreational species occupying Mississippi coastal waters. The information obtained provides an assessment of population dynamics and an annual index of abundance for Spotted Seatrout, relative abundance and age structure of Red Drum, and abundance, distribution and movement data on coastal shark species. This project is led by the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.

Sport Fish Tag and Release – This study provides scientific information on important finfish species which support Mississippi’s economically important saltwater recreational fishery. Coordination with volunteer anglers allow for tagging large numbers of Cobia, Tripletail, Red Drum and Spotted Seatrout. The study contributes significantly to the understanding of the seasonal movements of those sport fishes. This project is led by the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.

Anglers interested in tagging any of the target species should contact GCRL at 228-818-8818 or dyan.gibson@usm.edu to request the free tagging kits. The following link provides more detail on the tag and release program: gcrl.usm.edu/fisheries_center/docs/tag.release.program.2008.pdf.

Assessment of Migratory Behavior and Habitat Utilization of Sport Fish – This project conducts research on migratory behaviors and habitat utilization of Tripletail and Cobia to aid in effective management of these sport fish species. These species are tracked using acoustic telemetry and satellite tags to provide information on movement in Mississippi coastal waters and during cooler months when the fish migrate further south. The satellite tag data will provide managers with substantial information on migratory patterns and seasonal movements.

To date, ten Tripletail have been tagged with satellite tags in Mississippi state waters. If a tagged fish is caught, anglers are encouraged to release the tagged fish. However, no regulations prohibit the keeping of a legal tagged fish. Anglers are requested to report the location of the catch and the length of the fish. To report a tagged fish, please call the MDMR Sport Fish hotline number at 844-704-2359 or the MDMR office at 228-374-5000.

Mississippi Artificial Reef Program – This project works to enhance recreational fishing opportunities, recreational diving opportunities and improved habitat for targeted reef fish and inshore species. Artificial reefs provide productive habitat which, in turn, increases fish production and angler opportunities. Since the establishment of the program, 67 inshore reefs, 15 offshore reefs and eight rigs to reefs have been created to support important marine species.

Maps of inshore and offshore reefs can be found at dmr.ms.gov/artificial-reef.

For more information on Mississippi’s Marine SFR Programs please contact:

  • Rick Burris, Office of Marine Fisheries Deputy Director
  • (228) 523-4149
  • Jeremy Timbs, Sport Fish Restoration Coordinator
  • (228) 523-4022

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