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Mississippi Department of Marine Resources in Biloxi Receives First Place Gulf Guardian Award in the Partnerships Category

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Davina Marraccini (

ATLANTA (November 30, 2017) Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Gulf of Mexico Program recognized the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources in Biloxi, Miss., with a first place 2017 Gulf Guardian Award in the Partnerships Category. The award was presented at a ceremony today at the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort in Point Clear, Ala.

“Whether for individual recreational use or as an economic engine supporting a wide variety of jobs and industry, the Gulf of Mexico is a vibrant yet vulnerable ecosystem,” said Ben Scaggs, Gulf of Mexico Program Director. “Protecting this national resource requires innovative approaches and proactive measures. The Gulf Guardian award winners are paving the way for ‘out of the box’ thinking and replicable practices.”

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources collaborated with the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) to establish the derelict crab trap removal program in 1999. The program addresses the problem with derelict crab traps in the Mississippi Sound and adjacent tributaries. A derelict trap can be defined as a trap, which is un-buoyed, unmarked and not actively fished. Since the start of the project, more than 21,500 derelict traps have been removed from Mississippi waters. Of those, more than 15,000 were recovered by commercial fishermen.

This project benefits the environment in many ways. It removes lost traps, which continue to “ghost fish” or trap a wide variety of marine as well as terrestrial species. The majority of the traps removed are from coastal marshes, which are critical nursery ground habitat for finfish, crabs, shrimp and many other marine animals. The program also helps prevent navigational hazards to boaters occurring when traps are caught in the propellers. Finally, unsightly traps are removed that diminish the aesthetic value of the beautiful Mississippi coastal region and the Gulf of Mexico.

The Gulf of Mexico Program initiated the Gulf Guardian awards in 2000 as a way to recognize and honor the businesses, community groups, individuals, and agencies that are taking positive steps to keep the Gulf healthy, beautiful and productive. First, second and third place awards are given in seven categories: individual, business/industry, youth environmental education, civic/nonprofit organizations, cultural diversity/environmental justice, partnership and bi-national efforts.

The Gulf of Mexico Program began in 1988 to protect, restore, and maintain the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem in economically sustainable ways. The Gulf of Mexico Program is underwritten by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is a non-regulatory, inclusive consortium of state and federal government agencies and representatives of the business and agricultural community, fishing industry, scientists, environmentalists, and community leaders from all five Gulf States. The Gulf Program seeks to improve the environmental health of the Gulf in concert with economic development.

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