Why It Matters: South Carolina’s boating and fishing industries have a significant economic impact in the Palmetto State, and two federal initiatives underway threaten the traditions of offshore anglers by proposing to institute a new, untested fisheries data collection program and limiting vessel speeds not based on the best available science.
- Over the last two weeks, South Carolina Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) Co-Chair Senator Goldfinch and Caucus Member Senator Campsen introduced Senate Resolution 697 and Senate Resolution 712, which would both positively impact South Carolina’s anglers and coastal economy.
- Senate Resolution 697 urges South Carolina’s Congressional Delegation to secure funding for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to establish a state-led recreational offshore harvest data collection program to supplement the federal Marine Recreation Information Program (MRIP).
- Senate Resolution 712 calls South Carolina’s Congressional Delegation to assist in finding reasonable solutions to protect the North Atlantic right whale in response the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) proposed vessel strike reduction rule that would impose restrictive speed limits for almost half of the year.
Senate Resolution 697: In response to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council exploring a federal permit for South Carolina’s offshore anglers, SR 697 resolution was introduced to encourage the DNR to develop a state-based, marine recreational offshore fisheries data collection program, in lieu of a federal permit requirement, since the DNR is better equipped to count fish and produce reliable data than the National Marine Fisheries Service.
SR 697 resolution notes that, “states in the Gulf of Mexico have demonstrated that developing state-based data collection programs that supplement or replace MRIP leads to improved data accuracy and precision and more fishing opportunities for their anglers than the MRIP system alone.” As other states have been able to better manage their fisheries and provide increased recreational angling opportunities for their residents by using state-led data collection programs in tandem with federal programs, SR 697 additionally requests that the South Carolina Congressional Delegation to identify seed funds from appropriations to the National Marine Fisheries Service to develop the program to ensure more reliable data for fisheries management.
Senate Resolution 712: NOAA’s proposed rule that would limit the speed of vessels over 35 feet to 10 knots out to 40 nautical miles for almost half of the year would determinately impact boaters and anglers. SR 712 was introduced in response to this rule, as the proposed speed limit that would affect much of the Eastern seaboard is not based on the best-available science.
SR 712 states that, “with recent advancements in aerial surveillance, passive acoustic monitoring, satellite tagging, sonar, and DNA-detection technologies, combined with the relatively few individual right whales off our coast, mitigation would be more successful and less economically harmful by using real-time information to alert boaters of right whale presence and implementing slow-speed requirements when and where whales are present.” The resolution goes on to urge the South Carolina Congressional Delegation to appropriate funds to the National Marine Fisheries Service to implement a real-time monitoring program and to urge the Secretary of Commerce to pause implementation of the rule until a real-time monitoring program is implemented. A similar resolution was introduced and passed in Georgia recently.