"None whatsoever, really, not for the fishermen nor for our officers," said a spokesman for the marine patrol arm of the Department of Marine Resources. The person commented only on the promise of anonymity.
Just because Mississippi extends its state boundaries, the source said, "doesn't mean the federal government will recognize it. Louisiana did the same thing a couple of years ago (2011) and the feds have not accepted it."
It's unlikely federal authorities would be in any big hurry in Mississippi, either, despite the state remaining compliant with the country's Gulf fishing regulations and limits, which Louisiana has not.
House Bill 1072, which passed the Legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Phil Bryant in March, extends Mississippi's coastal boundary from three miles south of its barrier islands to three marine leagues - 10.36 land miles - south of Cat, Ship, Horn and Petit Bois islands.
Included in that additional water are some of the state's manmade fish structures, potential homes for reef fish like red snapper and amberjack, two of the most closely regulated species in the Gulf. Snapper seasons, regulations and limits are a major bone of contention between Gulf States and federal fisheries management.
If Mississippi were to establish its own snapper season in addition to that allowed in federal waters, as Louisiana, Texas and Florida have, the new boundary would seem to make it viable.
However, the bill's own language recognizes that it will require approval at the federal level either by Congress or the Supreme Court for Mississippi to claim that much new water.
"The limits and boundaries of the territorial waters of the State of Mississippi shall consist of all territory included within the boundaries described in the act of Congress of March 1, 1817, together with all territory ceded to the State of Mississippi by later acts of Congress or by compacts or agreements with other states, as such territory and boundaries may have been or may be modified by the United States Supreme Court which extends three (3) miles of Cat Island, Ship Island, Horn Island and Petit Bois Island off shore to three (3) Marine Leagues. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2013."
The Department of Marine Resources spokesman said that until further notice, the agency would continue to remain compliant with its enforcement and regulations. Mississippi's 34-day red snapper season opens Saturday (June 1) and runs through July 4. The limit will be two red snapper at least 16 inches in length per person per day.
"It is that compliance which allowed us and Alabama, the only other compliant state, to have the 34-day snapper season in federal waters," the spokesman said. "We want to give our fishermen and captains as much opportunity as we can.
"Part of that compliance is our enforcing federal regulations in our waters, and we will continue to do that."
A press release from the agency warns fishermen that federal officers are in the Gulf writing citations. It reads:
"The federal government has not approved and does not recognize the newly extended boundary of Mississippi and has not recognized the 2011 boundary extension by Louisiana. The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources recommends that the boating and fishing public continue to comply with federal regulations within the extended boundary areas of Louisiana and Mississippi until a final resolution of the matter by Congress, a federal court decision recognizing the extensions, or further action of the Mississippi Legislature.
"United States Coast Guard and other authorized federal agents patrol the waters off the coasts of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana to enforce federal regulations and have been issuing citations to Louisiana citizens who have been fishing within the extended boundary claimed by the State of Louisiana."