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September 8, 2003 DNR News (843) 953-9310


The S.C. Department of Natural Resources announced the 2003 shrimp-baiting season will open at noon on Friday, Sept. 12. Recreational shrimpers who purchase a license can legally cast their nets for shrimp over bait during this season. Shrimp-baiting season will remain open until noon on Wednesday, Nov. 11.

 To avoid long lines, baiters are encouraged to come into the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) offices in Charleston at the Marine Resources Center on James Island or Columbia at DNR headquarters in the Rembert Dennis Building at 1000 Assembly Street as soon as possible and not wait until late this week to purchase their licenses. For more information on shrimp baiting or to obtain a baiting license, call the S.C. Department of Natural Resources at (843) 953-9031 or (843) 953-9033 in Charleston. The Columbia DNR licensing office can be reached at (803) 734-3838.

The practice of shrimp baiting has remained basically the same since the current laws were passed in 1988. The season lasts 60 days, costs $25 for a resident license, and the catch limit is 48 quarts heads-on (29 quarts heads-off) per boat or set of poles per day. Each boat is limited to a set of 10 poles. The cost for a shrimp baiting license for non-residents is $500.

"It is difficult to estimate how the 2003 season will shape up," said Larry DeLancey, DNR marine biologist. "We have just completed our sampling cruise south of Charleston, and we recently sampled around Charleston and Georgetown. There are good numbers of shrimp in a lot of areas, but for the most part the shrimp are small. At least early in the season, shrimpers should avoid the upper rivers and look down in the sounds and bays, as above normal rainfall has flushed very small shrimp down into the estuaries."

In the 2002 shrimp baiting season, DNR biologists learned that catches improved in Charleston Harbor and some areas of Beaufort near the end of the season. Early on in the season, the better reports came from the Georgetown and Bulls Bay areas. "In many areas where people could catch shrimp, they were small, and the weather was very poor for outdoor activities," DeLancey said.

Shrimpers need to be reminded of existing legislation when choosing a cast net for the fall baiting season. The law went into effect in 2002 requiring that no cast net may be used for shrimp baiting that has mesh smaller than one-half inch on each side, or one inch in length when stretched.

The legislative change in mesh size only refers to shrimp baiting and does not affect recreational shrimpers who are not casting over bait.

Major Alvin Taylor of the DNR Law Enforcement Marine Patrol in Charleston advises baiters not to have bait or poles in a boat that is in the water before noon on Friday, Sept. 12.

The public is reminded of Coast Watch, which was developed to better help citizens report violations of saltwater recreational and commercial fishing laws, as well as marine environmental laws. The Coast Watch hotline number (1-800-922-5431) is toll-free and available 24 hours a day. The DNR Law Enforcement Marine Patrol is responsible for enforcing coastal recreational and commercial boating and fishing regulations.

- Written by Jennie R. Davis -




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