CCA Triangle” established
“CCA Triangle” established
“CCA Triangle” established, Topwater Action Campaign donates tags & receivers to help SCDNR with important cobia research
Columbia, SC – For over two decades the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources has been a leader in cobia research. Most recently SCDNR biologists have been tracking the movement of cobia throughout the southeast using a technology called acoustic telemetry. Valuable support to that effort has come via CCA South Carolina’s habitat program, the Topwater Action Campaign. In collaboration with long time habitat partner Sea Hunt Boat Company, CCA SC donated 20 acoustic transmitters and four receivers to SCDNR allowing biologists to increase the number of fish tagged and expand their receiver coverage to new areas off the South Carolina coast. The receiver stations, dubbed the “CCA Triangle” occur on three artificial reefs along the central coast where cobia are commonly encountered.
“CCA SC considers cobia to be one of the premier recreational fisheries in the Palmetto State and our organization has placed a high priority on the sustainability of the species for recreational anglers to enjoy,” said Scott Whitaker, CCA SC executive director. “Between working with legislators to obtain gamefish status for the species and now with our great partners at Sea Hunt Boat Company to fund a needed program focused on tracking and monitoring of the species, we are securing both meaningful regulation and scientific research in pursuit of wise stewardship for cobia.”
The technology relies on a network of more than 850 listening devices (receivers) located throughout much of the East Coast, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico. Cobia are captured via rod and reel and an electronic tag is surgically implanted into the body of the fish. The tag emits a “ping” that can be recorded (a detection) when a cobia travels within ¼ mile of any one of these receivers. New battery technology allows these tags to now function for 10 years or more. When enough fish are tagged and detected on different receivers, patterns in migration begin to emerge.
SCDNR initially partnered with Florida FWC and Kennedy Space Center on this project and to date have tagged 239 cobia from Florida to South Carolina, resulting in over 100,000 detections on 579 different receivers. In recent years, biologists in North Carolina and Virginia have joined the effort, allowing for a more complete picture of regional migratory patterns.
According to Matt Perkinson, SCDNR saltwater fishing outreach coordinator, “These acoustic tags have helped us narrow down where the break between Gulf and Atlantic cobia populations occurs along the east coast of Florida and given us more insight on how cobia tend to move when they are in our area. We wouldn’t be able to collect this type of data with conventional tags alone. We’ve learned a ton about cobia since we began using these tags, but there’s still a lot more to learn. By continuing to put out more tags and receivers, we can follow patterns in migration and even evaluate things like population trends that will help us manage the fishery most effectively.”
In addition to cobia, over 60 different species including sturgeon, white sharks, southern flounder, sea turtles are commonly detected by these receivers, meaning that any increase in coverage benefits a multitude of ongoing research projects. “CCA South Carolina has been an important supporter of cobia research in South Carolina and we look forward to continuing that relationship moving forward,” Perkinson said.
Sounding the alarm on dolphin management
Fed’s history of encouraging a longline fishery for dolphin could end in disaster for recreational anglers
Dolphin are critically important to the recreational fishery in the South Atlantic, and yet manipulations by federal fisheries managers continue to encourage development of a directed longline fishery that could have a radically negative impact on the recreational fishery going forward, and may have already.
The federal emphasis on commercializing dolphin isn’t new. In 2004, the original fishery management plan for dolphin recognized it as a predominantly recreational fishery and contained a provision for a commercial trip limit of 3,000 pounds, which was specifically designed to prevent a directed commercial fishery from developing. The trip limit provision was taken to public hearing, and a majority of the Council members thought it important enough that they voted in favor of putting the trip limit in place. The NOAA Fisheries Regional Administrator removed the trip limit provision, stating it was unnecessary since longliners weren’t targeting dolphin.
In 2014-15, the commercial sector caught its entire quota of dolphin in the first five months of the year, resulting in a commercial closure from Key West to Maine for the rest of the year. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council immediately investigated to find out who had caught all the fish so quickly. NOAA Fisheries at the time refused to divulge who had caught the fish, but representatives of the Bluewater Fishermen’s Association (BFA), a commercial fisheries organization, testified at a meeting that dolphin was only a bycatch fishery for longliners, and that they had not targeted them. BFA insisted that state-licensed boats out of North Carolina were responsible for the early closure.
In response, in 2016 the South Atlantic Council again considered a 3,000-pound commercial trip limit, but NOAA Fisheries and commercial fishing representatives opposed the move. In a compromise, it was agreed that the commercial fishery would operate with no trip limits until it hit 75 percent of its quota, and then a 4,500-pound trip limit would be enacted.
In June 2020, South Atlantic Council staff finally refuted BFA’s claims with data that showed that the bluewater longline fleet had indeed targeted and caught more than a million pounds of dolphin in 2014 and 2015, which had resulted in the early closure. Upset at being misled, members of the South Atlantic Council immediately moved to disallow longline gear in the commercial dolphin fishery as part of Dolphin-Wahoo Amendment 10. Facing opposition again from NOAA Fisheries and commercial interests, another proposal was put forth that would exempt commercial boats with a Highly Migratory Species license from the longline ban. That exemption would ultimately protect bluewater longline boats that caused the increased catches and penalize the small-scale, state-licensed boats that had been wrongly blamed for the early closure in 2015.
That is where things stand today. Amendment 10 continues to be debated by the South Atlantic Council, and now is the time for the recreational angling community to demand safeguards be put in place to prevent a directed longline fishery for dolphin from developing once and for all. As an agency dedicated to promoting and subsidizing commercial fisheries, it is clear that NOAA Fisheries intends to ignore the intent of the dolphin fishery management plan and allow a dolphin longline fishery to become established. Nurtured, encouraged and protected by NOAA Fisheries, a directed commercial longline fishery for dolphin will inevitably have a material, negative impact on the quality and availability of this highly prized sportfish that is so crucial to recreational anglers.
The South Atlantic Council next meets Sept. 14-18 and Dolphin-Wahoo Amendment 10 will be on the agenda. Contact your state’s representatives on the Council (https://safmc.net/council-members/) and urge them to protect the future of the dolphin fishery by disallowing commercial longline gear.
misses the Boat!
Columbia, S.C. – For Bryce Lyles (20) of Sumter, this week is going to be one to remember as he missed out on a brand new 2020 Sea Hunt BX 22 BR ft Bay boat with a retail value of approximately $43,000 not once, but twice, in the same week! That’s a feat that has never happened in the CCA South Carolina STAR Tournament; in fact that’s something that has only happened one other time in any of the CCA STAR tournaments in three other states.
While vacationing at Folly Beach with his family, Bryce and his dad started fishing in the Folly River on the Saturday they arrived and were having great success. He caught a redfish on Wednesday that had STAR tag #52 in it, but he was not familiar with what the tag represented. He eventually got curious enough to call CCA South Carolina several days later to see what the tag meant and was beside himself when he learned what he had missed. Furthermore, he went on to explain that in addition to tag #52, he had also caught and released tag #55 earlier that week as well!
“Hearing that he had caught two tagged fish just days apart representing a catch of $86,000 in boat motor and trailer packages was nearly too much for the young man to take,” said Scott Whitaker, executive director of CCA SC. “Needless to say, he and his dad are now both CCA SC members and registered for the tournament.”
“I have heard of CCA but was not familiar with the STAR tournament,” said Bryce. “I was completely stunned when I was told what the tags represented. You can believe my dad and I registered right after we got off the phone. If you are fishing in saltwater in the state of South Carolina and aren’t registered for STAR, let me tell you that it is not a good feeling if you catch one of those tagged reds. You can bet I’m going to be back out there looking for one.”
The STAR Tournament is now in its fourth year in SC and has been conducted in three other CCA state chapters (Texas, Louisiana, Florida) for decades in some cases. CCA SC and its tagging team release 60 slot-sized redfish in the coastal waters of South Carolina each year beginning in late spring in preparation for that year’s competition, each with a special tag indicating it is a tournament fish. The first two CCA SC members and registered tournament anglers to re-capture one of the fish win a brand new 22-foot bay boat/motor/trailer package by title sponsor Sea Hunt Boat Company, Yamaha Motors, and Wesco Trailer.
With its spectacular marine resources and fishing opportunities, the CCA SC STAR Tournament has grown by leaps and bounds each year, drawing more anglers and more industry support. More importantly, a growing number of recreational anglers and coastal visitors are introduced to the important marine advocacy and habitat work that CCA SC is doing to improve the state’s marine resources.
“We want anglers to win these prizes, and we really feel for Bryce and his family, but what an unbelievable fish story they have now. There are several people in Texas, Louisiana and Florida who have caught tagged reds without being registered, signed up immediately afterward, and eventually caught a winning fish, so there is hope!” said Whitaker. “We’ve had fish caught every year of the tournament, all with great stories of anglers just missing the prize, but the same angler catching two tags is a new one for me. It is simply unheard of – I know I’ll never forget this one, and I bet he won’t either.”
The CCA SC Star Tournament presented by Sea Hunt Boat Company runs through October 4, 2020. Anglers must be a member of CCA and registered in the tournament to win. To find out more about the tournament(s) and to register, visit www.joincca.org/startournament.
South Carolina anglers question federal council appointment
NOAA decision leaves SC anglers without voice in federal fisheries management process
Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina recreational saltwater anglers find themselves without a voice at the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council after the Department of Commerce recently announced it was replacing the state’s recreational representative with a commercial fishing interest. With each state holding three seats at the deliberative body that sets regulations and policy for fishing in federal waters, the recent round of appointments means the Palmetto State is now represented by two commercial fishing representatives and the state’s marine resource agency representative.
“I cannot recall a time when South Carolina didn’t have a single recreational angler on the Council,” said Scott Whitaker, CCA SC executive director. “It is a perplexing development. David Whitaker was up for reappointment after a single term and was recommended by Gov. Henry McMaster for another three-year term, but somewhere in the final selection process with NOAA Fisheries and the Department of Commerce, the decision was made to go around the state’s preferred candidate. That decision effectively labels the largest stakeholder in South Carolina as irrelevant.”
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is responsible for the conservation and management of fish stocks within the federal 200-mile limit of the Atlantic off the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and east Florida to Key West. The governors of each state recommend qualified candidates to serve up to three consecutive three-year terms, but the final selection is in the hands of NOAA Fisheries and the Department of Commerce.
“It is highly unusual to have a state in the southeastern United States with no recreational representation on the regional fishery management council,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. “In the North Pacific and Alaska, where commercial fisheries dominate, rarely, if ever, is more than a single recreational angler on the entire North Pacific Fishery Management Council. The same calculus doesn’t seem to apply in the southeastern United States where recreational fisheries are far and away the dominant stakeholder group. This is a prime example of why recreational anglers are so frustrated with the federal fisheries management process.”
“NOAA likes to talk about maintaining ‘balance’ on the councils between recreational and commercial interests, but that is a totally capricious metric that is only applied in situations like this,” said Ted Venker, conservation director for CCA. “In a state like South Carolina, there is no rational reason to have two commercial reps on the Council. NOAA Fisheries is built to foster and subsidize industrial fisheries even where they don’t exist in a meaningful way. It’s very disappointing. NOAA Fisheries has no idea how to evaluate and manage recreational fisheries which is the only way to explain how South Carolina ends up with an absurd situation like this.”
CCA SC encourages Governor to reconsider access closures
“Given that fishing provides a valuable, needed, and traditional physical and mental outlet, we would like to encourage you to consider amending your executive order regarding the closure of public boat ramps and landings as soon as appropriate.”
CCA South Carolina asks Governor McMaster to revisit Executive Order closing public boat ramps and landings. The full letter is below.
April 9, 2020
The Honorable Henry McMaster Governor, State of South Carolina 1205 Pendleton Street Columbia, SC 29201
Dear Governor McMaster,
On behalf of the over 10,000 members, supporters, and volunteers across the Palmetto State as well as the state board of directors of Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina (CCA SC), I thank you for the leadership you have shown during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your efforts to secure both the physical health and well-being of our citizens as well as the welfare of the state’s economy have been evident in your decisive actions. South Carolinians will remember your efforts justly.
As you are keenly aware, recreational saltwater fishing is a strong part of the fabric of South Carolina; both culturally and economically. While the stewardship of our envied coastal resources is mission centric to CCA SC, advocating for and advancing recreational saltwater anglers’ access to those resources is just as strong a part of our efforts. Given that fishing provides a valuable, needed, and traditional physical and mental outlet, we would like to encourage you to consider amending your executive order regarding the closure of public boat ramps and landings as soon as appropriate. Perhaps there are additional protocols that could be adopted to allow for the use of these public trust areas while maintaining the clearly warranted social distancing and gathering guidelines that are so important at this time.
To echo what the American Sportfishing Association said in their letter to you dated Friday, March 27, “Particularly during this pandemic, recreational fishing provides an ideal means for individuals and families to get outdoors and boost their physical and mental health in a way that doesn’t necessitate close contact with others”. Clearly, allowing South Carolina’s families to access the waterways of the state in a responsible manner was your intent, as is evident in the message that fishing has not been prohibited; however the closure of the public landings and ramps is a de facto closure of access for the vast majority of our state’s citizens. Many Governors have encouraged forms of outdoor recreation, such as recreational fishing, as a positive and appropriate activity compatible with social distancing guidelines. You have been a staunch advocate of that traditional activity during your time as Governor and the recreational saltwater fishing community values your commitment.
CCA SC works tirelessly with state agencies, fisheries managers & law enforcement, and state and local officials to be a valued and trusted voice concerning marine conservation and angling advocacy issues. During this unprecedented time in our state and country’s history, South Carolinians are united in overcoming this great challenge and look to your leadership to provide the path. We urge you to please revisit this order and seek guidelines that would allow Palmetto State families the opportunity to use these resources as a vital re-set. If we can be of any assistance in that endeavor, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Sincerely, Jay Brown CCA SC State Chapter Chairman
Popular recreational species are early winners in legislative session
Conservation measures put in place on Atlantic Spadefish and Tripletail
Columbia, S.C. – While it is early in the 2020 South Carolina legislative process, key legislators working with Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina (CCA SC) and state fisheries managers passed important conservation measures for both Atlantic Spadefish and Tripletail late last week, two species popular among recreational anglers. Senate Bill 474 places a 14-inch minimum size limit on Atlantic Spadefish with no changes to creel limits already in place. Senate Bill 475 addresses the fact that Tripletail had no conservation measures of any kind in the Palmetto State – the only state in the species’ range without any regulation – by placing an 18-inch minimum size limit and a three-per-person, nine-fish-per-boat creel limit. Both pieces of legislation, particularly S.475, are reasonable management steps that needed to be taken, says the recreational angling advocacy group.
“We (CCA SC) have long held the position that every recreationally important species should be seen as having value and should be protected with reasonable management regulations,” said Tombo Milliken, CCA SC Government Relations chairman. “To do otherwise would be irresponsible given the increasing pressures on our existing coastal resources. We are very appreciative and thankful that we have willing partners in the General Assembly and state agencies to work with towards those goals.”
South Carolina manages all its natural resources via legislation, requiring approval by both the House and the Senate before being signed into law by the Governor. The two fisheries legislative efforts began in 2019 and received staunch support in both bodies of the General Assembly, yet were delayed passage in the waning days of last year’s session. With support in the Senate by Sens. Chip Campsen, Stephen Goldfinch, Greg Gregory, and Ronny Cromer last session, the bills moved easily through that body’s process. Equally as impressive was the bi-partisan support the bills received this session in the House with Reps. David Hiott, Bill Hixon, and Roger Kirby navigating the bills through the sub-committee and full committee process to final vote.
“To have decision-makers who understand and recognize both the value that South Carolinians place on our coastal and marine resources and what having access to them means to our traditional way of life is so crucial in a state that continues to experience so much population growth,” said Scott Whitaker, CCA SC executive director. “Our coast is such a special place along the entire Eastern Seaboard and has played so significant a role in South Carolina’s – even the country’s – history that it deserves the commitment by interested parties to protect and manage it with wise stewardship and in a sustainable manner.”
Great Southern Homes Announces Commitment to Conservation
Leading South Carolina Home Builder proud Partner in Conservation
Columbia, S.C. – With the start of the new year, Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina and the privately-held Great Southern Homes headquartered in Irmo, SC are excited to announce the home builder has become the marine advocacy group’s latest South Carolina based Partner in Conservation. With Great Southern Homes commitment of a continual annual pledge, CCA SC will be able to expand their marine conservation mission of improving both marine resources and recreational saltwater angling along the Palmetto State’s coast.
“Great Southern Homes has been a dedicated supporter of CCA SC for some time now and to have them commit to such a substantial partnership speaks volumes about their leadership’s dedication to quality of life in South Carolina” said Jay Brown, CCA SC state Chairman. “We look forward to them being a part of our organization’s efforts for a long time”.
As one of the Southeast’s fastest-growing builders and Builder Magazine’s 54th Largest Builder, Great Southern Homes knows the housing market of the Southeast as well as anyone. The company now builds in over 100 communities throughout South Carolina and Augusta, Georgia and its footprint extends to most new housing markets across the state. Since their beginning, they’ve built homes on the solid foundation of exceptional quality, industry-leading construction standards and brilliant energy-smart and cost-efficient features. Great Southern Homes currently builds new homes throughout South Carolina with operations in the Midlands, Greenville/Spartanburg, Clemson, Charleston, Myrtle Beach/Georgetown, Florence, Sumter and Aiken/Augusta.
“Our partnership with CCA SC is a fun and exciting way to get involved and be a part of all the important work the organization is doing along South Carolina’s coast” said Maigan Lincks, Great Southern Homes Marketing Director “Supporting and promoting the wise stewardship of our state’s marine resources is one-way this partnership contributes to making a better future for everyone”.
“It takes passion and a willingness to get involved to face the challenges to our marine resources and we are fortunate to have a partner in Great Southern Homes that conveys both of those qualities” said Scott Whitaker, CCA SC executive director. “Having South Carolina based companies realize the value of the work CCA SC is doing and willingly stepping in to provide the on-going support that it requires really speaks directly to the high priority South Carolinians place on our natural resources and sporting tradtions”.
CCA SC, Sea Hunt Boat Company extend marine conservation partnership
Nations top selling saltwater boat builder committed to conservation, recreational angling
Columbia, S.C. – With the start of the new year, marine conservation and recreational saltwater fishing in the Palmetto State received a shot in the arm with the announcement that CCA South Carolina and Sea Hunt Boat Company have extended their partnership. 2020 marks the seventh consecutive year of the two organization’s collaboration and both are very excited about what the relationship has been able to accomplish towards the promotion and enhancement of those two defining traditions in South Carolina.
“We are pleased and honored that Sea Hunt Boat Company believes in the conservation and angling track record that CCA SC has established,” said Jay Brown, CCA SC state chairman. “Having a true home-grown industry leader in the boating community that sees the positive impacts of those efforts and is willing to contribute towards future successes speaks volumes about the community values of Sea Hunt Boats. We are proud to have them as a partner as we continue to work to improve recreational angling and our state’s marine resources.”
As an innovative leader in the industry, Sea Hunt Boats is committed to giving its customers the most boat for their money and strives to be the best value in the marine industry. It has earned a loyal following of customers all over the country. The company’s commitment to the sustainable management of our marine resources runs just as deep. Sea Hunt has once again been named the Official Boat of CCA South Carolina. The company also continues as the title sponsor of the organization’s growing S.T.A.R. Tagged Redfish Tournament as well as the presenting sponsor of the organization’s very popular annual Banquet Trail.
“We share CCA South Carolina’s vision for stewardship of our marine resources and we greatly admire the work they have done with their habitat program. We believe CCA is a complete marine conservation organization and so extending this partnership was an easy decision for us,” said Bubba Roof, Jr., president of Sea Hunt Boats. “As a company, it is our belief, now more than ever, that efforts for proper marine conservation need the strong support of the marine industry and we like to lead by actions not just words around here.”
“Sea Hunt’s commitment means more reefs, more restoration, more research and more recreational angling advocacy for Palmetto State fishermen,” said Scott Whitaker, CCA SC executive director. “As anglers, the team at Sea Hunt Boat Company gets that uniting sportfishing and conservation interests to marine manufacturing is good for both fish and fishermen.”