Officials worry about drop in cobia in South Carolina waters

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — Wildlife officials are worried about the decline in the cobia population in South Carolina waters.

The Island Packet of Hilton Head reported that Port Royal Sound cobia are unusual because the species usually spawn in much deeper waters.

The Department of Natural Resources says there has been a drastic drop in the number of fish spawning near the shore.

The agency released about 60,000 cobia into Port Royal Sound between 2004 and 2009. Research has shown that those fish make up about half of the cobia caught each year. That means the number of wild fish have dropped sharply.

Michael Denson with the Marine Resources Institute in Charleston says he would like to see fish bred by the agency make up only about 2 percent of the overall population.

———

Information from: The Island Packet, http://www.islandpacket.com