Just a month ago, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved Amendment 18A, which eliminates black sea bass pot fishing in McClellanville, Charleston and other historic fishing communities along the South Carolina coast.Ē

The proposal will impact most of the small fishing families in the Lowcountry that rely on black sea bass.

In fact, of the 36 small fishing families who relied on black sea bass over the past decade, only seven will be able to continue fishing after implementation of Amendment 18A.

These small fishing communities and families contribute greatly to the tourism industry in South Carolina and draw thousands of visitors who every year come to the coast to enjoy fresh, local, wild seafood.

Most people donít realize how fragile the commercial fishing industry is and has been for the past 10 years.

The past decade has been marred by heavy government regulation, high diesel prices and deflated product prices due to high levels of farm-raised seafood imports.

Finally, after many years of sacrifice, fishermen were seeing stocks rebound, including black sea bass, which gave them hope that they might be able to have an economically viable fishery.

However, Amendment 18A erases those 10 years of sacrifice by the fishing communities and eliminates their opportunity to take part in the rebounding resources they helped rebuild.

There are no results from Amendment 18A that justify the eradication of 29 fishing families and the small communities like McClellanville that are highly dependent on the fishing industry.

Amendment 18A is flawed from conception. Decreasing the number of fishing families does not affect the rebuilding of the resource. The overall quota will remain the same.

There are other tools like trip limits and gear restrictions that can do this. Many fishermen were embracing the concept of the local food movement and finding ways to increase their returns on fish landings. In this way, fishermen were increasing profits while decreasing catch. These fishermen will be excluded due to more stringent catch landings requirements imposed by Amendment 18A.

I encourage you to help prevent Amendment 18A from becoming a reality by contacting your state and federal representatives and senators and asking them to oppose this action.

It would be a shame if families in communities up and down the South Carolina coast, like McClellanville, were excluded from continuing what has been a way of life for generations.

Allston Leland

Romain Road