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September 8, 2009

Shrimp baiting season opens Sept. 11 in S.C. waters

The 2009 shrimp baiting season will open at noon Friday, Sept. 11 in South Carolina waters.
           
Recreational shrimpers who purchase a shrimp baiting license can legally cast their nets for shrimp over bait during this season. Shrimp baiting season will remain open until noon Tuesday, Nov. 10. The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) opens the shrimp baiting season annually on the last Friday on or before the Sept. 15 each year.
           
The practice of shrimp baiting has remained basically the same since the current laws were passed in 1988. The season lasts 60 days, resident licenses cost $25 and non-residents licenses cost $500. The catch limit is 48 quarts of shrimp measured heads-on (29 quarts heads-off) per boat or set of poles per day, and each boat is limited to a set of 10 poles.
           
DNR biologist Larry DeLancey says, "The 2009 season outlook should be about average, depending on weather conditions. Tropical storms and excessive rain can cause small shrimp to migrate prematurely."
           
License sales in the shrimp baiting fishery peaked at 17,497 in 1998 and have declined steadily, with 8,346 licenses purchased last year. Post-season mail surveys conducted every year since 1988 indicate that recent total catches have been less than 1 million pounds per season (heads on) after peaking at more than 3.6 million pounds in 1997. Despite the decline in total catch, catch per trip has remained relatively stable, averaging about 20-22 quarts per trip since 2001, according to DNR biologist Julia Byrd. The stable catch-per-trip suggests that shrimp abundance has remained relatively good, but fewer licenses and shrimping trips are resulting in a lower overall harvest.

DNR Law Enforcement Division in Charleston advises baiters not to have bait or poles in a boat that is in the water before noon on Friday, Sept. 11. The public is asked to report violations of saltwater recreational and commercial fishing laws by calling the Coast Watch hotline number (1-800-922-5431) toll-free, 24 hours a day.

South Carolina's natural resources are essential for economic development and contribute nearly $30 billion and 230,000 jobs to the state's economy. Find out why Life's Better Outdoors.


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