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Be sure to keep up with latest fishing rules, regulations

The last thing a fisherman wants to do is run afoul of the law, even unintentionally, and it can be a full-time job trying to keep up with all the new rules and regulations that pop up seemingly every day.

One such regulation is the closure of the recreational harvest of black sea bass, which goes into effect today. The National Marine Fisheries Service has projected that the annual catch limit of 409,000 pounds has been reached, and as required by federal law, harvest must be kept below this level to prevent fish from being removed too quickly and to rebuild the overfished black sea bass population.

The commercial fishery for black sea bass closed in October after the commercial limit of 309,000 pounds was reached. The recreational fishery for this species will open again on June 1, 2011.

Another new regulation involves fishermen -- both recreational and commercial -- who are pursuing shad, herring, and American eel with commercial gear. These fishermen now must obtain a free permit from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and must report their landings on a monthly basis, according to recent changes in state law. Permits and reporting forms can be obtained at no cost by calling the DNR's permitting office at 953-9311. Failure to obtain a permit or to report landings, fishing effort, or comply with permit conditions may result in the loss of ability to participate in these fisheries.

SAFETY NOTICE

Certain lots of recently manufactured .45-caliber automatic ammunition may contain an incorrect propellant charge. If you have any .45 automatic ammunition with the following brand names and part numbers, use of product from these lots may result in firearm damage and possible serious injury. Check to see if your ammunition package is from any of these lots: American Eagle (AE45A, AE45N1, or AE45A250), Champion (WM5233), GoldMedal (GM45B), Hi-Shok (45C, 45D) and Federal Personal Defense (C45C, C45D).

If you have ammunition from any of these lots, or have questions concerning this warning, please call 1-800-831-0850 or 1-800-322-2342 and ask for product service.

WHEN YOU CAN'T GO FISHING ...

With few fishing days available this past week and things looking sort of bleak for the next few days, perhaps it is time you cultivated a bit of your Lowcountry heritage. The following programs and events are available for your enjoyment:

  • Horseshoe Crabs: Our Ancient Residents, 3 p.m., Feb. 22, Coastal Discovery Museum: Horseshoe Crabs have been around millions of years and still play a critical role in ecosystem, wildlife and human health. They are some of the most misunderstood creatures found along our coastlines. Learn about their ancient roots, unique spawning methods, and medical importance from noted veterinarian Al Segars. A $5 donation per person is requested.
  • Introduction to Wildlife Photography, 7 a.m., Feb. 25, ACE River Basin: This one-day workshop held from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Feb. 25 in the Ashepoo Combahee Edisto (ACE) River Basin will feature the photography staff from South Carolina Wildlife Magazine. The workshop is focused on wildlife photography and will be held in the heart of the ACE Basin at Donnelley Wildlife Management Area and Bear Island Wildlife Management Area. The event will incorporate two photo outings and a how-to session at the McKenzie Field Station at Bennett's Point. Participants should have an SLR camera and some photography experience. Registration will close Feb. 16, and a random drawing will take place Feb. 17 to decide participation. Go to dnr.sc.gov for information or to register.
  • Suddenly in Command, 6 p.m., March 1, Hilton Head Boathouse: The Hilton Head Coast Guard Auxiliary is offering a one-session seminar designed for spouses, frequent passengers and friends who may have to take over the operation of a recreational boat or assist the skipper in an emergency. The course will cover frequent boating mishaps, how to respond in an emergency, communications, getting your vessel back to port and much more. Class will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. For more information and to register, call 342-5782.
  • Impoundment and Waterfowl Management on Nemours Plantation, 9 a.m., March 2, ACE River Basin: This outing will feature a tour of one of the primary plantations of the ACE Basin. Dr. Ernie Wiggers, president and CEO of the Nemours Wildlife Foundation, will narrate the offering with a focus on the management of plantation impoundments and the use of these areas by wildlife. Waterfowl, shorebirds, birds of prey and other bird species will be identified. The outing will run from 9 a.m. to early afternoon, and participants should bring lunch. Go to dnr.sc.gov for information or to register.
  • Shrimp: Biology and Business, 3 p.m., March 8, Coastal Discovery Museum: Al Stokes, a biologist with 33 years of experience working for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and the manager of the Waddell Mariculture Center in Bluffton, will explain our native shrimp and cultured shrimp, both of which contribute to the No. 1 seafood item in the country. The presentation will cover the most interesting shrimp biology information and facts about where our seafood comes from. A $5 donation per person is requested.
  • Palmetto Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, March 10-12, Lady's Island Theater: An opening reception will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. on March 10 with film screenings and guest speakers that may include filmmakers and conservationists. The film festival will continue from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on March 11 and March 12 with six two-hour screening sessions each day. A total of 45 to 50 films are expected to be screened. Field trips to view wildlife are planned for March 13.
  • A Fisherman's Guide to Seafood in our Lowcountry Restaurants, 11 a.m., March 18, Coastal Discovery Museum: Dave Harter, president of the Hilton Head Island Sportfishing Club and tour guide for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources' Waddell Mariculture Center will give advice about the best seafoods to order for your palette, your health and your wallet when dining in local restaurants and buying fish from local seafood distributors. A $5 donation per person is requested.
  • CLOSING THOUGHTS

    The sheer number of hunting and fishing products out there never ceases to amaze me. In my youth, I was dazzled by many of them. As I grew older, I understood a bit more but became amused by the new inventions. And in yet older days, I have come to the realization that, for the most part, the majority of them are a product of the untalented, sold by the uneducated, marketed by the unprincipled and purchased by the utterly bewildered.

    But I digress.

    I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes, by the noted American poet and philosopher Henry David Thoreau:

    "You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land, there is no other life but this."

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