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Officials consider crack down on unauthorized use of boat slips

Jackson County supervisors have been asked to crack down on boaters who dock their vessels without permission at the Ocean Springs Harbor.

Harbor master John Hughes told supervisors Monday about the difficulties commissioners are encountering patrolling boat traffic at the harbor.

Hughes said Hurricane Katrina created boat slip shortages across the coast and boat owners in need of somewhere to dock, will just tie up without approval.

“Many of the violators are out of town people working in the area but living on boats. This has happened several times since the storm. There is no ordinance against it. Basically, it’s just trespassing,” said Hughes.

Harbor officials want a $100 fine assessed per violation.

Supervisors authorized board attorney Paula Yancey to draft an ordinance for review.

Berthing of private, commercial, fishing and small craft is permissible through a lease agreement with the county.

“We have permanent use holders, here,” said Leslie Hamm, administrative assistant.

Hamm said 200 people are on the waiting list for the 178 boat slips.