Stokes: Changes coming for fishing rules and regulations in South Carolina

rodcrafter@islc.netJune 22, 2013 

There has been considerable talk in recent weeks about new rules and regulations for the fishing industry, in particular those of recreational fishermen.

Whenever any word of regulatory changes surfaces, countless rumors and speculation arise -- so much so it brings to mind a statement long ago by a notable individual of some influence.

"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on." -- Winston Churchill


Changes are in the works for South Carolina Fishing Licenses. In a first for Palmetto State sportsmen, recreational saltwater anglers will be the first to have the opportunity to buy a 365-day license; a significant change in the state's license process that previously called for the expiration of hunting and fishing licenses on June 30 of every year. The 365-day license concept is a change that the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has wanted to make for some time, but was delayed by logistics and budgetary constraints.


New conservation and management measures are coming for both fish and fishermen. According to South Carolina's Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), the new laws vary from adjusting size and creel limits to the passage of the 365-day recreational angling license.

"The number of legislative fisheries issues in this session was impressive, as was the level of engagement by legislators on both the House and Senate committees," said Scott Whitaker, CCA SC executive director. "To simply monitor that many issues during a session is a task, but to be able to engage each issue on behalf of the recreational angling community speaks volumes about the level of advocacy sophistication that CCA SC has achieved."


Flounder: The state-wide creel limit beginning July 1, 2014, will be 15 fish per angler with a boat limit of 30 fish; The size limit of 14 inches remains unchanged.

Tarpon: A size limit of 77 inches (fork length) was adopted for the first time for this long-lived, highly migratory species that visits the state from as early as May through September.

Black sea bass: The new state legislation provides for a return to a year-round fishery in state waters, out to 3 miles, with size and creel limits mirroring federal regulations.

For more information on these changes or to get involved as a volunteer with the CCA, contact executive director Scott Whitaker at 803-865-4164.


Through the purchase of recreational hunting and fishing licenses, and with excise taxes collected on hunting and fishing gear, hunters and anglers contribute funding to South Carolina's wildlife and sportfish restoration projects.

One such project is a new fishing pier at Knowles Island Pier in Jasper County. The pier is owned and maintained by Jasper County. The new structure will provide better angler access and require low maintenance, as well as access to those who are mobility impaired.

Sales for 2013-2014 hunting and fishing licenses began on June 17. Licenses are available 24 hours a day by calling 1-866-714-3611 or by visiting the DNR website at www.dnr.sc.gov/purchase.html.


No matter the current standing on regulations, mistakes have been and will continue to be made, but it is worth the effort. In the future paths will be repeated and during that time our children will find their own way. But we owe it to them to show we tried. Then, one day in our declining years maybe, our children will still be able to fish -- and perhaps take us with them.

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