COLUMBIA - A Berkeley County legislator says blue catfish in the Lowcountry are being harvested to an excess, and a bill that would establish daily limits will be up for discussion in a Senate panel Wednesday.
Rep. Eddie Southard, R-Moncks Corner, is calling for people to stop taking blue catfish from Lakes Marion and Moultrie by the truckloads. Southard said the fish are being taken to the Upstate, where people pay to fish for the catfish.
"I think they should grow their own fish," Southard said. "But you can't stop them because there's no limit on it right now."
Southard's bill, which will go before the Senate's Fish, Game and Forestry Committee at 10 a.m., would change that.
It would make it illegal for anyone to take more than 10 blue catfish from Lake Marion, Lake Moultrie, the upper reach of the Santee River, and the Congaree and Wateree rivers. It also would make it illegal to keep more than one fish bigger than 32 inches long per day from the waterways listed.
Should the measure become law, anyone who gets convicted can be fined up to $300 or face jail time for no more than 30 days. But the bill faces some opposition in the Upstate, including from Sen. Tom Corbin, R-Travelers Rest, who opposes pieces of the measure.
Corbin said it makes sense for the fish to be driven to the Upstate, instead of having dozens of fishermen driving to the lakes, with how expensive gas is. He added he expects a compromise can be reached possibly by increasing the limit number.
"We've had some outcry from folks up our way," said Corbin of the bill. "It's just something we need to look at. We don't want to decimate our fish population."
Cynthia Roldan can be reached at 708-5891.