Mississippi Blue Crab Management

Management Structure

The Mississippi blue crab fishery, which is fished exclusively within Mississippi state territorial waters,  is managed under Mississippi state legislature and associated regulatory bodies, including the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) and Mississippi Commission Marine Resources (MCMR). MCMR adopts regulations, ordinances, and rules and issues all license fees and permits. MDMR carries out management tasks and is responsible for data collection and updates to the MCMR.

Members of MDMR, as well as members from the management agencies of the other four Gulf States, collaborate regularly through Gulf States Marine Fisheries Fisheries Commission (GSMFC). GSMFC acts as an advisory agency providing management recommendations for each Gulf State, but has no regulatory authority. The charge of GSMFC is, “to promote better utilization of the fisheries, marine, shell and anadromous, of the seaboard of the Gulf of Mexico, by the development of a joint program for the promotion and protection of such fisheries and the prevention of the physical waste of the fisheries from any cause.”

Brief History of Management Changes

1963 – The first ordinance to prohibit catch sale or possession of sponge crabs.
1975 – Ordinance 68 limited fishing for sponge crabs only within one mile of Horn, Ship or
Petit Bois Islands.
1977 – Ordinance 68 was repealed and fishing for sponge crabs was prohibited everywhere
in Mississippi. Later that year, fishing for sponge crabs become prohibited only south of the
Intracoastal and east of the Gulfport Ship Channel (later called the sanctuary area).
1978 – Complete ban on sponge crab harvest reinstated.
1979 – A season for total sponge crab harvest set for June 15 to August 15. Fishing for
sponge crab in the sanctuary area was prohibited for the entire year.
1981 – Ban on sponge crab harvest June through August repealed, but retained sanctuary area maintained.
1983 – The National Park Service prohibited all commercial fishing within one nautical mile of
the shoreline of all Gulf Island National Seashore barrier islands.
1988 – Placing recreational or commercial crab traps north of the Interstate 10 (I-10) Highway
in the three coastal counties was prohibited.
1995 – Commercial take of crabs from the marine waters north of the CSX Rail Road Bridge
was prohibited in the three coastal counties of Mississippi.
1996 – Sponge crab harvest was prohibited in the sanctuary area only.
1997 – Eliminated the legal take of sponge crabs.

Current Regulations

See Guide to Mississippi Saltwater Fishing


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