Overfishing and license fees: what local anglers should know about the new legislation

·2 min read

A legislative package signed by South Carolina lawmakers earlier this month will increase fishing license fees and attempt to rebuild the state’s flounder population.

Anglers in South Carolina will have their saltwater fishing license fees increased from $10 to $15 starting July 1, according to a press release from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). The increase came about after Gov. Henry McMaster signed a legislative package geared toward alleviating overfishing of the local flounder population. The money will go toward rebuilding population efforts, according to the press release.

A study conducted by researchers in 2019 from Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina shows the southeast flounder population is declining and has been for years. SCDNR conducted their own research following the study and found that not only was the population in decline, but the average size of the fish was also taking a hit.

“Our results also suggest the average size of flounder encountered in our surveys has declined by over an inch over the last 10 years or so,” Dr. Joey Ballenger, associate scientist at SCDNR, said after the study. “This is often a sign of heavy fishing pressure, since people are removing the fish as soon as they reach minimum size requirements, with very few bigger fish remaining in the population.”

In an effort to better these numbers, the legislation has set out a minimum size limit of 16 inches and a minimum catch limit of five fish per person and only 10 fish per boat a day. Before the change, anglers could keep 15-inch flounder and the catch limit was set at 10 fish per person with 20 per boat per day.

“These new management measures will end the over harvest of flounder, allowing the fishery to begin to rebuild,” Phil Maier, who oversees the agency’s Marine Resources Division, said in a press release. “We’re grateful to the angling community for sharing their vision for the fishery and to the leaders who worked hard to craft this solution. We look forward to seeing this popular fish become a more common catch along the South Carolina coast.”