New flounder legislation a proactive step forward

Columbia, S.C. – With the waning hours of the legislative session in sight, members of the South Carolina House of Representatives and Senate worked diligently to come to terms on new management measures concerning one of the Palmetto State’s most popular saltwater species. Flounder, particularly Southern Flounder, have been at the forefront of much of the angling community’s attention due to its continuing downward trend. The new legislation calls for sweeping changes to management measures, science and programs, and both non-recurring and recuring funding.

“The willingness of our elected officials to work collaboratively on the issue was commendable,” said Tombo Milliken, CCA SC Government Relations Committee chairman. “Both bodies had different reads on the issue and how to go about making a course correction but in the spirit of effective public policy they took input from fisheries managers, constituents, and interested parties to forward a sound plan.”

Efforts by Representatives Lee Hewitt, Phillip Lowe, Marvin Pendarvis, Bill Hixon, and House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee Chairman David Hiott produced and ushered a strong measure to the Senate where Fish, Game, & Forestry Committee Chairman Chip Campsen along with Stephen Goldfinch and Thomas McElveen provided the vision necessary to complete the process.

The continued decline of Southern Flounder across its geographic range is well documented by fishery managers from Texas to North Carolina. The legislation represents a conservation win that technically ends overfishing of southern flounder via reasonably adjusted size and creel limits (16 inch minimum size, 5 fish per person/10 fish per boat), creates and funds a new stocking program along with infrastructure improvements to aid and bolster a declining wild stock, and delivers a resounding new license fee structure to allow the Marine Division to address the ever-increasing tasks (stock assessments, scientific research, law enforcement, etc.) being asked of it by the angling community, fisheries managers, elected officials, and the general public. The revenue of saltwater fishing license sales go directly to the Marine Division and the expenditures are reviewed by the Saltwater Recreational Fishing Advisory Committee (SRFAC) comprised of appointed citizens.

“South Carolina is blessed with an abundance of natural wonders, which contribute to our genuinely unique and enviable quality of life. Through sound fisheries management practices, as H.3957 represents, the future of recreational flounder fishing in South Carolina has the potential to take another giant step forward; truly a proactive opportunity,” said Scott Whitaker, CCA SC executive director. “We value the dedication by our elected officials to our state’s marine resources and their efforts to seek sound management through legislation, commitment to conservation, and consideration of the publics’ continued use and open access to those resources.”

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