Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United, Inc.

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Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United- Stay informed on the issues that matter!

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All Hands Needed to Help Restore Mississippi's Oysters

Posted by Mscfuwebs@gmail.com on June 26, 2019 at 10:35 PM Comments comments (5)

Prolonged Freshwater Exposure Causing Extreme Oyster Mortality

Mississippi is currently experiencing extreme mortality of its' oyster resources due to pronlonged freshwater exposure from the opening of the Bonnet Carre' Spillway. It is going to take all hands on deck to help Mississippi's wild oyster reefs recover. Pew Charitable Trusts' Environmental divison recently announced a new effort to help protect and restore oysters on the Gulf Coast. We look forward to working with Pew and other stakeholders to help Mississippi's oyster reefs recover. Learn more about Pew's new campaign by clicking here:

Pew Launches Effort to Protect, Restore, Oyster and Seagrass Habitats!


(Source: Mississippi Department of Marine Resources Junce CMR Meeting)

Derelict Crab Trap Removal Incentive Program Launches!

Posted by Mscfuwebs@gmail.com on March 17, 2019 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (3)


Many crab traps are lost to sea each year for a number of reasons. Boats run over lines, detaching buoys from traps; high tides and storm events wash traps away; and lines may be intentionally cut by vandals or negligent owners. These traps that have been abandoned or lost are termed ‘derelict traps’. Derelict traps pose a number of economic, navigational, and environmental hazards, but are difficult to remove from the environment. The Derelict Trap Reward Program is led by Mississippi State University Extension Service, Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United (MSCFU), Mississippi Coalition for Vietnamese-American Fisher Folks & Families (MSCVAFF), and the NOAA Marine Debris Program to encourage proper disposal year-round of derelict crab traps. Shrimpers that participate in the program can dispose of derelict traps that they encounter while shrimping in exchange for a reward. The goal of this program is to create a healthier, safer, and more profitable Mississippi Sound.

To learn more about the project or to register to participate visit:


Recreational Overfishing Threatens Future of U.S. Fisheries

Posted by Mscfuwebs@gmail.com on June 23, 2018 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (5)

Slew of Fisheries Bills and Misguided Recreational Fishing Measures Could Undermine Decades of Progress

A perfect storm is brewing behind closed doors that could drastically undermine the rebuilding of American fish stocks and threaten the livelihoods of the next generation of commercial fishermen. The U.S. Congress is set to consider a set of fisheries bills (H.B. 200 and S.B. 1520) that seek to increase recreational fishing access by looking the other way when it comes to accountability measures and sound scientific data. In addition, fishery management councils are taking up proposals to increase recreational access by altering allocations between commercial and recreational fishing sectors to favor the latter. The availablilty and access to fresh, sustainably harvested seafood for America's countless seafood consumers is under attack!

Recreational fishing organizations and lobbiest have conspired with large multi-national corporations that benefit from the sales of recreational fishing equipment, gear, and boats to push for increased recreational fishing access for a variety of species. This requested access comes at a time when recreational fisheries management is essentially data poor due to the fact that most recreational fishermen are not required to report their catch and very little reliable data exists to accurately quantify recreational catch rates. Therefore, there is alot of uncertainty as to how big of an impact increased recreational fishing pressure will have on fish stocks such as the highly-prized Red Snapper. Unlike recreational fishermen, commercial fishermen are required to report their catch so that fisheries can properly manage the fisheries and know exactly what is being extracted from the ocean.

This uncertainty and perfect storm of recreational fishing measures essentially amounts to a fisheries coup. The vast majority of American citizens do not recreationally saltwalter fish; however, a small percentage (4%) of sports fishermen are conspiring to undermine access to a public resource that most Americans can only access through seafood markets and restaurants. Commercial fishermen and supporting industry provides this access to the countless Americans who don't own a boat or even have access to the coastal waters. These misguided recreational fishing measures also threatens the future of the multi-generational fishing business that take much pride in providing healthy seafood option that most would never have access to. Reach out to your Congressional representative and demand that they vote NO on any misguided attempt to undermine this nation's sustainable seafood access!

MS Fishermen Support Sustainable Shark Fisheries & Trade Act

Posted by Mscfuwebs@gmail.com on June 8, 2018 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

The Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United, Inc. is glad to express strong support for H.R. 5248 “The Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act” introduced by Representative Webster (R-FL). The bill offers a common sense approach to addressing sustainable shark fisheries and ensures nations engaged in the importation of shark products to the United States are held to similar standards. The bill would require a certification for each nation engaged in the importation of shark products. Import nations engaged in practices of finning sharks at sea would not be certifiable under this legislation since it has been illegal in the U.S. for quite some time.

We applaud Rep. Webster and the currently 21 bipartisan co-sponsors of this bill for their support because it does not seek to harm U.S. commercial fishermen operating under sustainably managed fisheries and provides meaningful solutions to addressing inequities in global fisheries management. The Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United encourages Mississippi’s congressional leadership to support this bill as well. Sharks deserve an increased level of protection and requiring import nations to adhere to similar standards that U.S. fisheries operate under is a great way to push the conservation of sharks forward. Additionally, we support language in the bill that would include skates and rays in the Seafood Import Monitoring program.

The Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United is pleased to join a growing list of supporters of the Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act. The bill has already received the support of commercial shark fishermen, conservation groups such as the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Mote Marine Laboratory and over 62 prominent shark scientists. It should also be noted that these recommendations are consistent with the International Plan of Action for Conservation and Management of Sharks of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Senator Rubio also recently introduced a similar companion bill in the Senate in which we applaud and support.

Report Reveals Historic Success in Federal Fisheries Management

Posted by Mscfuwebs@gmail.com on May 22, 2018 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (1)

NOOA Recently Removed Gulf of Mexico Red Snapper From the Overfished List

You can read all about Red Snapper in this quarter's issue of Water Log- published by the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium Law Program here: http://masglp.olemiss.edu/waterlog/index.html

Red Sanpper's rebound can be attributed to the success of the Magnuson-Stevenson Fishery Management and Conservation Act. Read what Gulf Restoration Network's chef advocate Kendall Dix had to say about federal fisheries management:

New Orleans, LA – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its Status of Stocks 2017 report on the state of fisheries in the U.S. to Congress on Thursday. The report, which can be found online here, revealed that the number of overfished stocks hit a record low. Congress is currently considering two bills that would weaken protections under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the primary law managing federal fisheries.

“NOAA’s latest Status of Stocks 2017 report again highlights the successes of the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA), the foundation of our nation’s fisheries,” said Kendall Dix, fisheries associate for Gulf Restoration Network. “We applaud the work of all of the state and federal officials, scientists, and individual stakeholders who compose the eight regional fishery management councils.”

Forty-four stocks have now been rebuilt and a record low number of stocks are being overfished--a reversal of the trend of stock declines prior to the 1996 reauthorization of MSA. The economic impacts of U.S. fisheries have continued to grow since the 2006 MSA reauthorization and show that the law is working.

Fishers and chefs both lauded the announcement. Ryan Bradley, director of Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United, Inc., said, “There is no doubt that the Magnuson-Stevens Act has played a pivotal role in reducing the number of overfished fish stocks in the United States. Strict adherence to total allowable catch rates while also seeking optimum yield is a delicate balancing act that has granted our nation the ability to fully utilize our marine resources while also ensuring the sustainability of the fisheries for generations to come.”

Ben Tabor, chef and owner of Sneaky Pickle in New Orleans, LA, welcomed what he said was a rare case of good news. “I own a small restaurant, so I rely on quality over quantity. Quality fish come from healthy oceans. And healthy oceans come from sound science-based management like what we have under the Magnuson-Stevens Act,” he said.

Despite the successes achieved under MSA, two bills making their way through Congress seek to rollback key science-based provisions of the act. Both H.R. 200 (the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act) and S. 1520 (the Modern Fish Act) attempt to subvert fisheries management tools that have been proven to work for years now.

“The tenets of the MSA are deeply rooted in science and accountability that depend on all user groups to be accountable for every fish pulled from the ocean. This is why we as commercial fishermen are glad to report our catch so that we can ensure our proud seafood heritage continues on with healthy fisheries well into the future,” Bradley reiterated.

Currently, that future is uncertain.

“While the addition of six stocks to the overfishing list shows that we have work to do, the MSA reauthorization bills as they are written would only make matters worse,” Dix said. “We need a bipartisan approach that builds upon what we already have. Ignoring science and risking a return to the dark days of overfishing is anything but modern.”

To view the full NOAA report, go https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/status-stocks-2017?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">here

Shrimp in the Seafood Import Monitoring Program is Now Law

Posted by Mscfuwebs@gmail.com on March 26, 2018 at 9:05 AM Comments comments (1)

U.S. Congress Takes Action To Protect American Shrimp Industry and Consumers of Imported Shrimp!

The domestic, wild-caught U.S. shrimp industry is glad to see the language in Sec. 539 of the FY18 Omnibus Appropriations bill originally introduced by Senator Shelby (R- AL) make it into law. Also, it should also be noted that additional language was added to the final rider that included a number of provisions favorable to restaurants such as language that would give shrimp importers at least until December 31, 2018 to comply with the powerful, Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP). Also, importers will only have to comply if the U.S. Government has created a similar traceability program for U.S. produced aquaculture shrimp by the same date. Additional language was also inserted to ensure the confidentiality of data collected and a provision that gives the Secretary of Commerce discretion in the promulgation of regulations necessary to the establishment and implementation of the program.

"We are pleased with the U.S. Congress for including language in the FY18 Omnibus Appropriations bill regarding lifting the stay on the inclusion of shrimp in the Seafood Import Monitoring Program."- said Ryan Bradley, Director of the Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United. "There was some additional language added to the final rider that made it into law that will ease concerns of U.S. restaurants over potential supply constrictions."; he added.

None the less; the domestic, wild-caught shrimp industry is ecstatic to see that Congress was willing to take action to address problems associated with cheap, imported shrimp flooding into the United States. Often times, the majority of these imported shrimp are farmed raised and are laced with excessive antibiotics. Also, extensive fraud exists throughout the import supply chain as has been reported by several news outlets including the adulteration of shrimp products and allegations of slave labor practices; in which, this action will help to address. Now that is the law, the U.S. wild-caught shrimp industry remains hopeful that imported shrimp will find its way into the SIMP program sooner than later. Consumers of shrimp- the mostly widely consumed seafood in the U.S., should also be relieved that the U.S. Government is taking action to ensure the health and safety of it's citizens.

This issue was fiercely lobbied on by industry groups on both sides of the coin. Special thanks go out to Mississippi's legislators whom worked hard on this issue including: Senator Roger Wicker, Senator Thad Cochran, and Rep. Steven Palazzo. Additionally, the measure was received bi-partisan support from members of both the House and the Senate signed onto letters of support for the "Shrimp in SIMP" provisions. Most recently, Senator Roger Wicker spearheaded a letter signed by eleven Senate colleagues to support the measure; for which the Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United is greatly appreciative of. The war over imported shrimp will continue to rage on; especially, as talks of tariffs begin to heat up!

Here is the full text of the rider found is Sec. 539 of H.R.1625:

MSCFU Makes Push For Oyster Shell Recycling Program In Mississippi

Posted by Mscfuwebs@gmail.com on February 28, 2018 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (0)

The Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United launched a pilot oyster shell recycling effort at the 2017 Annual Oyster Cook-off & Festival that was a huge success! The event- featuring six of the Mississippi Coast's best restaurants yielded nearly 2,000 pounds of recycled oyster shells in just one day! We received a call from our friends at the Alabama Coastal Foundation asking if we would be interested in leading this oyster shell recycling effort at the annual oyster cook-off in Biloxi and we jumped on the opportunity right away. Oyster shell recycling is something our organization has been a staunch advocate of for several years now. We have been sitting idle here in Mississippi while our neighboring states of Louisiana and Alabama have been operating very successful oyster shell recycling programs for several years now.

The time to take action is now! A recent Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) meeting in Mobile, AL back in November of 2017 presented an opportunity to speak directly with Trustees of the historic BP Settlement. One of the things our organization voiced loud and clear was the need for funding for oyster shell recycling programs to help restore our severely degraded oyster reefs in Mississippi. Currently to date, most of the cultch planting (the material used to help give oyster larvae a place to attach to) that has taken place in Mississippi has used the limestone as the cultch material. The commercial fishermen represented by our organization has been expressing much concern over the ineffectiveness of the use of for cultch planting for some time now. Although, oyster shells are widely known as the industry preferred and natural cultch material; a shortage in the supply of oyster shells has inhibited resource managers from utilizing the shell. This is where the oyster shell recycling program comes in to play.

Tons of oyster shells are being discarded in to landfills every year from local restaurants. These shells could easily be separated and collected to be used in the restoration of our oyster reefs. Not only would these restaurants be helping to restore the very oysters they are serving; they would be helping to clean the waters of the Mississippi Sound and improve the livelihoods of the commercial fishermen who harvest the oysters. A single oyster can filter nearly 50 gallons of water a day. For these reasons, an oyster shell recycling program is a no-brainer. The Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United looks forward to assisting in more oyster shell recycling efforts and hopes that the Trustees and decision makers in charge of the BP settlement will consider using the funds to pay for this much needed project to help restore Mississippi's oyster reefs- which include some of the largest wild reefs in the world!

U.S. Domestic Shrimp Industry Receives Strong Bipartisan Support from Senate Leaders to Place Shrimp in Seafood Import Monitoring Program

Posted by Mscfuwebs@gmail.com on February 9, 2018 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (1)

The Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United, Inc. issued the following statement today following the transmittal of a support letter from U.S. Senators regarding language in an appropriations bill that would increase transparency in imported shrimp:

A recent letter to the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, dated February 8, 2018, from eleven influential Republican and Democrat U.S. Senators led by Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker (R) would include shrimp in the full implementation of the Seafood Important Monitoring Program (SIMP) as part of the FY18 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill within 30 days of enactment. The language of the bill referenced in the letter can be found in S. 1662; Section 513 authored by Senator Richard Shelby (R- AL). The Senators advocate for the inclusion of this important language in the final FY18 omnibus appropriations legislation.

The language, if implemented, would force shrimp importers to adhere to similar standards that the U.S. shrimp industry has been required to meet for years. “With full implementation, the American people would have better, timelier access to health and safety information for this widely consumed product”; the Senators noted. Not only would the bill help build consumer confidence in the safety of imported shrimp; it would also help to close on the door on fraudulent schemes including the adulteration of domestic, wild-caught shrimp that is often mixed with cheap imported shrimp and passed to consumers as U.S. product. Additionally, the language in the bill would help hold importers accountable that source shrimp from countries and companies that employ slave labor and use excessive amounts of antibiotics on the imported shrimp, most of which is farmed raised.

“We sincerely applaud Senator Wicker and the rest of the Senators who expressed strong bipartisan support for the hard-working U.S. shrimp industry in today’s letter regarding including shrimp in the Seafood Important Monitoring Program. The domestic, wild-caught shrimp industry has been in a state of decline for decades due to the flood of cheap, imported shrimp from countries such as India, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. This bill is a beacon of hope for our coastal communities that greatly rely on domestic shrimp production- the largest commercial fishing industry in the southeastern United States.” said Ryan Bradley, Director of the Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United and fifth-generation commercial fisherman.

Wisconsin Farmers and Gulf Fishermen Link Up to Address Gulf "Dead Zone" Issue

Posted by Mscfuwebs@gmail.com on December 18, 2017 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (3)

Growing problem creates opportunity for collaboration

Recently, a group of commercial fishermen from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama traveled over one thousand miles north to meet with a group of conservation minded farmers in Wisconsin. The reason for the meeting was to discuss the ever growing Gulf Dead Zone that spreads seasonally from the mouth of the Mississippi River into highly productive fishing areas of the Gulf of Mexico. This opportunity allowed fishermen to share their stories of the Dead Zones’ impact on their livelihoods and allowed the farmers to show the fishermen some of the practices they are utilizing to help protect the Gulf fishery. Farmers and commercial fishermen have at least one thing in common; and that is the average age of both is getting older every year. This means that fewer young people are getting in to the predominately family-run businesses that make up the two industries and this could spell big trouble for the future of the nation’s food supply. This is why it is important that these two groups come together now, to address these problems so that future generations of domestic food producers can continue to supply the nation with reliable, healthy, and sustainably harvested food options that are also good for the environment.

One young farmer named Michael Dolan, age 24 of Seven Seeds Farm in Spring Green, WI is leading the charge of farmers in his region in an effort to promote sustainable, organic, and conservation minded farming practices. Michael is the Director of the Iowa County’s Uplands Watershed Group; a non-profit which includes farmers from Southwest Wisconsin who utilize conservation practices such as no-till farming, cover crop planting, stream buffers, and by maintaining tree lines all without the use of toxic sprays. “We can create change when we see the problem head on and connecting fishermen with farmers is a great place to start addressing the problem of the dead zone.” said Michael. These farmers should be applauded for their grass roots efforts, innovation, and drive to keep nutrients on the farm and out of the flow down to the Dead Zone. Together with the help of the Michael Fields Agriculture Institute- which provides administrative and organizing support to several farmer-led groups; the Wisconsin farmers recently hosted nine Gulf fishermen and their families including seafood dock owners and a wetland specialist to discuss the Gulf Dead Zone issue over a magnificent seafood dinner. Nearly, eighty-five farmers from the surrounding area attended the feast featuring a bountiful spread of fresh Gulf Seafood such as succulent shrimp, salty oysters, and some of the coast’s finest fish courtesy of Louisiana fishermen. The connections made through this gathering are invaluable in the fight to stem the growth of the ever expanding Gulf Dead Zone.


The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), announced during 2017 that the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico was the largest in recorded history. The Gulf Dead Zone; which spreads annually from the mouth of the Mississippi River on both the west and the east coast of Louisiana is largely caused by nutrient run-off from fertilizer used on upland farms that end up flowing into downstream watersheds. The influx of high amounts of nutrients from the river into the Gulf gives rise to massive algae blooms which in turn deprive the waters of nearly all the available oxygen. Any marine life that is not able to swim out of harm’s way perishes. The Gulf Dead Zone not only impacts the federal waters off of the Louisiana coast but is steadily encroaching into Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama state waters. Although, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been convening a Gulf Hypoxia Task Force since 1997, little has actually been done to slow the growth of the Dead Zone. The Wisconsin farmers predict that next year will be even worse than this year’s record breaking hypoxic zone because of the torrential rains that occurred throughout the region this fall. The impacts of the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone greatly threaten commercially-important species of shrimp, crabs, and fin-fish including highly sought after species such as red snapper, grouper, menhaden, and tuna. A recent Duke University study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicated that the Gulf Dead Zone was effecting not only the abundance of shrimp but also noted that hypoxic conditions have resulted in stunted shrimp growth. As the Dead Zone continues to grow, the problem has the severe potential to send shockwaves throughout the Gulf seafood industry; ultimately forcing consumers to have to pay higher prices for the Gulf seafood the nation has come to enjoy and depend upon.

Myself- Ryan Bradley, a fifth-generation commercial fisherman from Long Beach, MS and Director of the Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United; a non-profit business alliance of Mississippi fishermen and fishing businesses, was one of the fishermen who attended the recent get together with Wisconsin farmers. “I’ve seen the dead zone first hand both shrimping and fishing in the Gulf; every spring and summer it begins to expand. We go from catching fish as fast as we can; to seeing absolutely nothing within just one week. It seems to be getting worse every year and moving in to areas we have never seen before. The dead zone starts growing right around the time valuable fish like red snapper are laying their eggs in these waters and you have to wonder if they are able to survive. Thankfully, as river levels drop in the fall season and dissolved oxygen is replenished; the marine life begin to move back into these areas but we have noticed a significant reduction in both shrimp abundance and size each year”; I told the farmers. It is important for fishermen, farmers, and resource managers to meet face to face to discuss these issues so that we can humanize the problem and connect it to those whose livelihoods depend on one another. Hopefully, more funding can be set aside to encourage these types of invaluable exchange programs with other states such as Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, and Minnesota to further the discussion and promote voluntary wholesale change in the farming practices that are employed.

Although much of the Gulf Dead Zone has been attributed to excessive nutrient run-off from upland watersheds; an equal amount of blame could be cast on the extensive levee system that has straight jacketed the Mississippi River. The natural capacity of Louisiana’s river basins to remove nutrients has been greatly diminished as the Mississippi has become one of the most heavily engineered rivers in all of the United States. Over time, urbanization and engineering modifications have disconnected the river from the land. The result is substantial land loss in Louisiana equivalent to one football field per hour of critical habitat necessary for a plethora of native flora and fauna to thrive. Now more than ever; Louisiana is faced with unprecedented, controversial freshwater and sediment diversion projects that present tough decisions for stakeholders and policy makers in an effort to ebb the tide of land erosion. The need for coastal protection and land loss mitigation is undoubtedly needed to protect coastal ecosystems; however, generational fishing families are rightfully concerned about the future of their livelihoods due to the unknown and possibly unintended consequences of several proposed comprehensive restoration projects. It is unclear if river diversion projects would create hypoxic zones in the estuaries that juvenile marine life depends upon before moving offshore.

When it comes to the Gulf Dead Zone issue, everyone can play a role in diminishing the ever growing hypoxic areas. This can be accomplished when purchasing beef by choosing U.S. grass fed beef over U.S. grain fed beef. Grass fed is promoted as being healthier for the cattle, the consumer, and the environment. This is because grass fed beef requires far less soil tillage which equates to less soil and nutrient run-off and a significant overall reduction in nutrient use. The fewer nutrients sent down river, means less hypoxia in the Gulf Dead Zone and more of the tasty bounty the Gulf of Mexico fishery provides to countless seafood consumers. Cooperatively, farmers and fishermen are working together to solve the complex problems our industries face with the hopes of improving both industries and the environment for the benefit of all Americans for generations to come. This issue requires all hands on deck and the prudent use of all available funding sources to tackle the Gulf Dead Zone problem. The RESTORE Act funding from the historic BP Oil Spill settlement presents a once in a lifetime opportunity to make major headway in addressing the growing hypoxic zone that has likely been exacerbated by the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. Let’s not let this opportunity pass us by; we can all work together to make a difference.

Special thanks to the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute that provides administrative and organizing support for the Uplands Group. Many thanks to Wisconsin Farmers Union, Organic Valley, Strauss Brands, the McKnight Foundation, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, and the many other sponsors and collaborators for supporting this growing connection between Wisconsin farmers and Gulf fishermen.

To read the press release from the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, click here.

Celebrate MS Seafood for National Seafood Month

Posted by Mscfuwebs@gmail.com on October 27, 2017 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)

The next time you enjoy Mississippi seafood, celebrate the people who brought it to you!

October is National Seafood Month, and there’s no better place to celebrate seafood than right here in the Magnolia State.

What Mississippi may lack in coastline length, it more than makes up for in seafood heritage and pride. Popular delights like oysters, shrimp, flounder and blue crabs – just to name a few – are all pulled from the briny waters off our coast and shipped fresh to seafood lovers across the state and this great nation.

The Mississippi seafood industry had a profound impact on the Gulf coast by establishing itself as a diverse immigrant community that led it to be called the “Seafood Capital of the World” as far back as 1869. In 1890 alone, local canneries reportedly processed 2 million pounds of oysters and 614,000 pounds of shrimp. Twelve years later, those numbers had skyrocketed as 12 canneries reported a combined catch of nearly 6 million pounds of oysters and 4.4 million pounds of shrimp.

Over the years, Slovenians, Cajuns, Eastern Europeans and Vietnamese (among others) came to Mississippi for its seafood bounty, its canning industry and its promise of opportunity for all.

Fast forward to 2015, when Mississippi landed 306 million pounds of seafood – more than any other Gulf state but Louisiana. Current landings support nearly 10,000 jobs and generate more than $239 million in economic value.

Mississippi has launched an extensive marketing campaign to promote its proud seafood culture. The Mississippi Seafood Trail was established by the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association in 2014 to reinvigorate the local seafood industry and help area restaurants increase sales of genuine Gulf seafood in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The Trail’s focus was to promote restaurants that proudly serve wild-caught, genuine Gulf seafood. With 69 participating restaurants across 360 miles from the Delta to the Gulf Coast, the Mississippi Seafood Trail makes it easy for tourists and residents to find establishments that offer genuine, delicious Gulf seafood.

At the heart of Mississippi’s seafood success is a strong commitment to science. Fishermen and women team up with scientists to improve data collection and the science used to manage our fisheries. Managers work with fishermen to develop and implement policies that rely on sound science to protect both the fish and the fishermen. Government workers and fishermen collaborate to identify and fund opportunities to collaboratively solve problems.

It is truly a team effort, and one that has its roots in the strong Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The Magnuson-Stevens Act is our nation’s bipartisan fishery backbone, and it is something all Mississippians should be proud of. Thanks to Magnuson-Stevens’s science-based conservation requirements, 41 fish stocks have been rebuilt nationwide since 2001, and the number of fish stocks needing protection remains near all-time lows. Healthy fish stocks ensure profitable fishing businesses and a steady supply of sustainable seafood not just for today – but for future generations of fishermen, watermen and satisfied consumers like you.

Mississippi’s culture is a blend of traditions from a diverse community of people who pride themselves on their seafood history and heritage. When you purchase Mississippi Gulf seafood, you’re not only getting the highest-quality seafood, you’re supporting the state’s rich local culture and unique way of life. That’s a year-round reality we are celebrating this month.

So the next time you enjoy a dozen shrimp, red snapper fillet, crab cake or bowl of shrimp gumbo, take a moment to celebrate the people who helped bring this seafood to you.

* Special thanks to Eric Brazer for drafting this letter that was published in The Sun Herald- Biloxi on Friday, October 27, 2017. Eric Brazer is the Deputy Director of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance - the largest organization of commercial snapper and grouper fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico, which works to ensure that our fisheries are sustainably managed so fishing businesses can thrive and fishing communities can exist for future generations.