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January 30, 2009

No limits for menhaden; sports fishermen would like observers

Sportsmen want regulation of the menhaden industry similar to what other fishing captains face.

Mississippi's Commission on Marine Resources decided recently that no limits would be put on gulf menhaden - locally called pogies - this year. The fish aren't eaten but are valued for their by-products. Menhaden officials say imposing a limit would be a hardship in these tough economic times.

Sportsmen want regulation of the menhaden industry similar to what shrimp, oyster and recreational fishing captains face. Although menhaden boats are prohibited from fishing within a mile of the shore, there is no official oversight and violations are commonplace.

Tom Becker, president of the Mississippi Charterboat Captains Association, would like to see independent observers on all menhaden boats to make sure other species being caught in the nets are being released. "There's no monitoring at all on these boats. We want to co-exist out there."