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** Archived Article - please check for current information. **

February 10, 2011

Shad, herring, eel fishermen using commercial gear now need permits

Recreational and commercial fishermen pursuing shad, herring, and American eel with commercial gear, now must obtain a free permit from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and must report their landings on a monthly basis, according to recent changes in state law.

"For South Carolina to continue to keep these traditional fisheries open in state waters we must be able to obtain accurate, timely and complete landings and fishing effort information," said Mel Bell, director of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Office of Fisheries Management.

The permit requirement includes all licensed commercial fishermen as well as licensed recreational fishermen using commercial gear (gill nets, traps, etc.) in either fresh or saltwater. Monthly reports must be filed with the DNR no later than the 10th of each month during the open season for these fisheries.

Permits and reporting forms can be obtained at no cost by calling the DNR Permitting Office at (843) 953-9311. Failure to obtain a permit or to report landings, fishing effort, or comply with permit conditions may result in the loss of ability to participate in these fisheries.

About 150-230 commercial shad, herring and eel fishermen buy licenses each year, and an estimated 100-150 recreational anglers use licensed commercial gear in these fisheries, according to Bill Post, DNR diadromous fishes coordinator.

Value of the annual catch is estimated at $250,000 to $500,000 depending largely on river discharge, but more complete catch and effort data will help improve management of these fisheries, Post said. The bulk of shad and herring fishing occur from February to April, with catches of American eel peaking in March.

Areas fished include all major coastal river systems.

"South Carolina’s shad, herring and American eel fisheries are managed in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Interstate Fishery Management Plans," Bell said. "These management plans contain requirements that must be met for Atlantic states with fisheries for these species in state waters."

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