SC Marine Game Fish Tagging Program

FAQ's - Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is there a law regarding fish tagging in South Carolina?
  2. Why do I have to purchase a tag gun instead of SCDNR providing one for free?
  3. Can I buy my tagging gun from SCDNR?
  4. Do I need to purchase needles with my tagging gun?
  5. Why has the tagging program started using tagging guns instead of the tag sticks that were used in the past?
  6. What size fish can be tagged using the T-bar anchor tags?
  7. What if I am tagging fish larger than 27 inches?
  8. What is the minimum size for tagging any species?
  9. Should I wait until my data sheet is full before sending it in?
  10. What are the criteria for listing a fish as a target species?
  11. Should I tag any species other than those listed on the target species list?
  12. If I catch a tagged fish should I release it with the tag intact?
  13. Does the tagging program accept donations?

 

1. Is there a law regarding fish tagging in South Carolina?

Yes. SC Code of Laws Section 50-5-40 states: “No person may tag or mark and release saltwater fish or promote such activity unless authorized by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.”

2. Why do I have to purchase a tag gun instead of SCDNR providing one for free?

The tagging program operates on a very limited budget and we simply cannot afford to supply all the anglers who wish to participate with a tagging gun that costs $20-$30. Historically, one of the biggest cost issues the program has faced is providing tagging equipment, free of charge that never gets used. We feel that if an angler has a personal investment in the program, there is more of an incentive to actually use the equipment (tags) we supply for free.

3. Can I buy my tagging gun from SCDNR?

Not at this time. Anything SCDNR sells (licenses, retail items etc.) requires approval from the State Legislature.

4. Do I need to purchase needles with my tagging gun?

Make sure the tagging gun you purchase comes with a needle. We can supply you with replacement needles free of charge.

5. Why has the tagging program started using tagging guns instead of the tag sticks that were used in the past?

Because the tagging gun uses a small needle to actually insert the tag, it is less likely to compromise the health of the fish. In other words, it’s a more “fish friendly” means of tagging. Another benefit to using the tag gun is that they can be loaded with a strip of tags, and thus are a more efficient means for tagging fish, especially in situations where you are catching fish one right after another.

6. What size fish can be tagged using the T-bar anchor tags?

The optimal size range for using T-bar anchor tags is 10-27 inches.

7. What if I am tagging fish larger than 27 inches?

If you wish to tag fish larger than 27” we will supply you with nylon dart tags and an applicator free of charge. However, before you can receive this equipment, you must have demonstrated active participation in the program through tagging and reporting (i.e. mailing in a data sheet) using the T-bar anchor tags.

8. What is the minimum size for tagging any species?

Ten (10) inches.

9. Should I wait until my data sheet is full before sending it in?

No. We provide you with 5 data sheets and 5 business reply envelopes with each set of 25 tags to allow you to report your tagged fish as soon as possible. For example, if you tag and release 5 fish, there is the possibility one or more may be recovered soon after having been tagged. If you hold on to your data sheet, we will not have the initial tag information to provide to the angler reporting the recovery. We would rather receive more (partial) data sheets sooner rather than one full data sheet later.

10. What are the criteria for listing a fish as a target species?

The primary criteria are the importance of a particular species both commercially and recreationally to the State and South Atlantic region. The list of target species is further narrowed down based on the amount of historical data on that species.

11. Should I tag any species other than those listed on the target species list?

No. Target species are those for which data are still needed. Data on species not listed as targets are not needed because there are plenty of data already available on these fish. Tagging non-target fish is essentially a waste of tags.

12. If I catch a tagged fish should I release it with the tag intact?

Yes. After recording the tag number, location, and type of fish that was caught, release the fish with the tag intact. Then contact the tagging program to report your recapture. Information on the fish will be sent to you along with a tagging program hat, t-shirt or other gift.

13. Does the tagging program accept donations?

Yes. Limited funding for this program is provided through the purchase of saltwater fishing licenses and donations are accepted to help mitigate the costs of tagging kits that are provided to participating anglers free of charge. Many sportfishing clubs and individuals help support this program with their donations and help ensure the continuation of this conservation effort.