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Press Release
Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks
1505 Eastover Drive, Jackson, MS, 39211
Phone: 601-432-2400

Monday, December 19, 2011

MDWFP and MDEQ Release Fish to Repopulate Lower Pearl River

JACKSON - Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) staff from the Meridian Fish Hatchery, accompanied by staff from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), released about 3,000 harvestable-sized channel catfish into the Pearl River near Picayune this week.  The channel catfish are part of a recovery program for the Pearl River that was affected when a discharge of black liquor from the Temple-Inland Paper Mill in Bogalusa, Louisiana, resulted in a massive fish kill last August.  The kill stretched along 80 miles of the Pearl River including about 40 miles bordering Mississippi.  An estimated 219,000 fish and mussels were killed according to MDEQ and MDWFP staff.  

MDEQ recently reached a settlement with Temple-Inland for an illegal solid wastedischarge and polluting the waters of the State.  The company has agreed to pay a $100,000 fine, $220,000 for fish stocking, and $45,000 to reimburse MDEQ for response and recovery costs.  

As part of MDEQ's settlement agreement, the agency is reimbursing MDWFP for the recovery program fish stocking from MDWFP's hatcheries.  The fish stocked this week at Walkiah Bluff Water Park in Pearl River County are one of several aimed at re-populating the river.  MDWFP is scheduled to make four releases including:

  • Two releases of 200,000 fingerling redear sunfish (shellcracker or chinquapin)
  • Two releases of adult channel catfish (1-2 lbs) - 3,000 fish and 2,000 fish

The redear are important sport fish for local fishers and serve as a prey species for larger predator species like largemouth bass and large catfish.  These fingerlings will be large enough to spawn this coming season.  The adult catfish will provide immediate harvest opportunities for anglers in the depleted fishery.

"The fish kill in August was devastating in the lower Pearl River, and we moved as quickly as possible with the enforcement action and settlement to restock the river and begin the process of bringing it back to a normal, healthy state.  We appreciate the partnership with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks to undertake this effort, and we look forward to the river being restored as the valued resource it is for residents and sportsmen in the area," said Trudy D. Fisher, MDEQ Executive Director.

Dr. Sam Polles, MDWFP Executive Director said, "The recovery of the lower Pearl River fisheries following this summer's fish kill is extremely important to the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.  It is a resource valued by Mississippi and Louisiana sportsmen.  We value our partnership with MDEQ and our agencies will continue to work together to identify additional species affected by the fish kill. Our staff will work diligently to produce and stock fish needed for the river's recovery."

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