The Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee Meeting will be held Tuesday to Thursday at the Francis Marion Hotel in Charleston. Public comment periods on the issue are scheduled at 4 p.m. Tuesday and again at 8:35 a.m. Thursday in the Francis Marion Hotel's Gold Ballroom.
Marine Protected Areas are considered to be a conservation measure to protect certain marine species and may include closure of the MPAs to activities such as fishing. Information on the hearing and an agenda is available at http://mpa.gov/fac/meetings.
--The law limiting the harvest of Arkansas blue catfish in the waters of Lake Marion, the Diversion Canal, the Rediversion Canal above St. Stephen Dam and Lake Moultrie has been extended for three years with consideration for renewal in 2013 by the General Assembly, the S.C. DNR has announced.
The law limits the catch of Arkansas blue catfish to one fish 36 inches and larger per person per day, regardless of harvest method. This includes bow fishing and applies to both recreational and commercial anglers. The original law was instituted to address catfish anglers' perception that large blue catfish numbers had declined as the popularity of angling these large fish had grown over the past decade.
The catfish family has become the most sought after fish in the Santee Cooper chain. The extension of this law is expected to continue to shift the majority of the large blue catfish harvest to recreational rod and reel anglers, whose tourism dollars add considerably more to the local economy than do other users of the resource.
--DNR also is reminding the public of state regulations regarding holding saltwater fishing tournaments.
Several forms are necessary to complete for each tournament. Most importantly, the application for a marine event form must be submitted to S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Law Enforcement 30 days prior to an event.
The application can be printed from the DNR Web site at www.dnr.sc.gov/boating/Forms/PDF/Marineeventapp.pdf.
In addition, DNR Office of Fisheries Management is asking tournament organizers to submit tournament results on a voluntary basis to increase the landings data available to fisheries managers for review. DNR can in return provide tournament organizers with services to better facilitate tournament success, including advertising tournament dates and contact information on the DNR Fishing Tournament Calendar, (https://www.dnr.sc.gov/Calendar/ViewCal.html), and offering certified scales to be borrowed for an event.
To ensure that your saltwater fishing tournament is in compliance with state and federal regulations, it is important that you contact the DNR Office of Fisheries Management. To request saltwater tournament forms or other information, contact Amy Dukes, DNR, Office of Fisheries Management, PO Box 12559, Charleston, SC 29422-2559, or call (843) 953-9365.
--New regulations are now in place for flounder fishing in the Pawleys Inlet/Murrells Inlet region of Georgetown County. The daily bag limit for flounder is now 10 per person per day and 20 per boat per day in all inland waters from Pawleys Inlet north to the northern terminus of Main Creek at Garden City Beach.
The new regulations also prohibit the use of artificial illumination produced by motor fuel powered generators while gigging or fishing for flounder in all inland waters from Pawley's Inlet north to the northern terminus of Main Creek at Garden City Beach. These flounder regulations are scheduled to expire as of June 30, 2014.