Beginning Jan. 1, all fishermen on Barnett Reservoir near Jackson will be required to have a designated and clearly marked trash receptacle in their possession while fishing waters managed by the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District.
“The rule includes both boaters and bank fishermen,” said John Sigman, general manager of PRVWSD. “There was already a requirement that boats have a designated, covered trash container on board. The new rule simply adds bank fishermen to the regulation.”
Sigman said the PRVWSD Board of Directors is growing weary of a trash-related problem in many of the most-popular bank-fishing areas, in particular, the Spillway Recreational Area below the dam along the tailrace to the 33,000-acre lake. A closure of the area, either short- or long-term, has been considered.
“We met with some of the concerned fishermen from the spillway and worked with them on a solution; this was one of their suggestions,” said Kenny Latham, the PRVWSD parks policy committee chairman. “This was what they wanted, and let’s hope it works. It does give our law enforcement officers an enforceable regulation.”
One problem with fish-related trash and standard litter law enforcement in an area like the spillway is that an officer must see the fisherman discard the trash, then sit and wait until the fisherman leaves to issue a litter citation.
“That could be six or eight hours, or even longer,” said Perry Waggener, reservoir police chief. “Otherwise, if we approach about litter, the guy can say, ‘Yes, it’s mine, but I plan to pick it up before we leave.’ There’s not much we can do.”
“The new law gives officers an immediate recourse,” said fisherman Todd Macko, part of the group that worked with Latham’s committee to combat litter. “If the officer walks up to a fisherman with litter on the ground, and says, ‘Let me see your designated receptacle,’ and the fisherman can’t produce one, he can be ticketed.”
To be legal, the receptacle must have either “trash” or “litter” printed on it and cannot be used for any other purpose.
“I hate it came to this, but the litter problem isn’t going away,” Macko said. “I really think it’s a very small percentage of fishermen and other visitors who are the problem. A lot of us have worked hard to pick up and clean the litter and attempted to use peer pressure to make a difference, and we’ve made a difference. It just wasn’t enough.”
The new regulation includes all areas of Barnett Reservoir where bank fishing takes place: the spillway, along the Natchez Trace, public fishing piers, parks, dikes and other places.
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