State plans another fish release in Pearl

Published 2:35 pm Thursday, June 14, 2012

Staff from two state agencies will release 1,500 large blue catfish in the Pearl River in the wake of a chemical spill by a Bogalusa, La., Temple-Inland mill that killed hundreds of thousands of fish in the river in August 2011. This will be the third major release of fish into Pearl River since the spill occurred.

Alice Perry, deputy Director of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, told Pearl River County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin, Jr., that the release will take place next week, but a day has not yet been selected, Lumpkin said at Monday’s board of supervisors meeting here.

MDEQ and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks will release the fish, Perry told Lumpkin.

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Lumpkin said the fish will be released at the Old River Landing boat launch off Mississippi Highway 26 near Poplarville and also at Walkiah Bluff Water Park just west of Picayune.

The fish are part of a stocking program to re-populate the Pearl River after a discharge of black liquor from the Temple-Inland paper mill in Bogalusa resulted in a massive fish kill in August 2011.

As part of MDEQ’s settlement agreement with Temple-Inland, the agency is reimbursing the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries Parks for several releases of fish.

Recent releases have seen 2,500 largemouth bass released in May 2012 and 3,000 “harvestable size” channel catfish in December 2011.

There is more planned stocking this summer and fall, plus next year, of bass, crappie, bream, blue catfish, flathead catfish and paddlefish, Lumpkin said.

The fish kill stretched along approximately 80 miles of the river, including approximately 40 miles bordering Mississippi. MDEQ, with assistance of MDWFP, estimated that approximately 219,000 fish and mussels were killed in the Mississippi portion of the river.

MDEQ settled alleged violations of state laws prohibiting pollution of state waters and improper disposal of waste material with Temple-Inland. The company has agreed to pay a $100,000 penalty, approximately $220,000 for fish stocking and about $45,000 to reimburse the agency for response and recovery costs.