Looking to next session, anglers put red drum, flounder management at top of list
Sustainable management of popular species remains focus of anglers, managers, and lawmakers
Columbia, S.C. – With the 2016 legislative session now closed, the recreational angling community, state fisheries managers, and lawmakers all worked together to address concerns for several popular recreational marine species. Yet indications are that at least two of the most sought-after species in South Carolina – red drum and flounder – will need the continued attention of all of those bodies concerning the wise management of the two species in the 2017 legislative session.
Red drum, or spot-tails as they are often referred to in South Carolina, remain the most popular species in state waters. As a long-lived fish that is particularly accessible by the angling public, red drum have been the subject of careful conservation measures for years, including a state-supported stocking program and gamefish status in South Carolina. Red drum hold a special place in the hearts of South Carolina residents, which is why anglers and managers are looking closely at both state and regional stock assessments to ensure a healthy future for the species. Should management adjustments be necessary, both the angling community and state lawmakers have shown they are willing to act.
“With the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) conducting a region-wide stock assessment of red drum, we are getting a report that complements the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources ongoing studies of the health of our stock in the Palmetto State,” said Mike Able, CCA SC’s Government Relations Committee chairman. “The initial report was alarming, but some serious questions were raised by the ASMFC and it has been sent back for additional analysis, which we anticipate will take a couple of months. That time frame will allow state fisheries managers, recreational anglers, and lawmakers take a thorough review of the data and come back with a comprehensive plan of action for the continued sustainability of this species.”
“Protecting our fisheries is of utmost importance to me,” said Representative Stephen Goldfinch concerning red drum management. “Fishing brings families and old friends together. Fishing keeps kids off the street. Fishing gets us back to the real world. I’m pleased to be working with state biologists and CCA SC to preserve this great American pastime. Without smart management of these species, our kids won’t have these same opportunities that we cherish. It’s incumbent upon us to not let that happen.”
Flounder are a close second to red drum in popularity and concerns over its status has been a focus for CCA SC for several years. A move to adjust the size limit of flounder from 14 inches to 15 inches in state waters was introduced in the general assembly this session with CCA South Carolina’s support. The bill (S.1112) made its way through the Senate and simply ran out of time on the legislative calendar for the House to take up the bill. Again, anglers and managers are looking to take necessary action in the upcoming legislative session to have reasonable regulatory measures in place.
“Flounder are much beloved by recreational anglers and in certain areas of the state, they are the hallmark species for that area. The health of this stock will remain a focus for the state’s recreational fishing community’s conservation efforts,” said Scott Whitaker, executive director of CCA SC. “It is unfortunate that the bill ran out of time in this session, but we will continue to work with the SCDNR and dedicated lawmakers on proper flounder conservation, based on in-depth stock and fisheries studies.”