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T O P I C R E V I E W
Posted - 07/10/2012 : 2:25:00 PM
Cobia becomes South Carolinas newest gamefish
Sale of popular fish caught in state waters is prohibited
Columbia, S.C. One of South Carolinas most popular saltwater species, cobia, now enjoys a new level of conservation with the status of gamefish, thanks to legislation passed by the General Assembly in the waning hours of the regular session. The legislation, proposed by the Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina (CCASC) and shepherded by Sen. Greg Gregory, was a collaborative effort between CCA SC and the SC Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). The passage of this measure is consistent with both CCASCs and the SCDNRs call for taking proactive management approaches to manage our states marine resources that calls for establishing regulations to support a species before deep and often drastic draconian measures are required.
South Carolina has a very unique opportunity in the recreational angling world with regard to our cobia fishery, literally, one that is not replicated to this degree anywhere in the country to my knowledge said Tony Constant, CCASC Government Relations Committee member from Beaufort. Because of the progression of meaningful management steps taken over the years, right now the recreational angling communitys eyes are being opened to the value and level of importance that South Carolina continues to place on its marine resources and recreational angling opportunities across the board, and our collective efforts are going to make the palmetto state a destination fishery.
In South Carolina, tarpon, red drum, speckled trout, and several species of billfish are recognized as gamefish because of their clear recreational fishery value; cobia presents the same warranted situation. While found worldwide in tropical, sub-tropical, and temperate waters, extensive DNA work by the SCDNR indicates that fish return to the same location in South Carolina, particularly Port Royal Sound, each year between late April and June to spawn. It has been found that Port Royal cobia and offshore cobia come from two different genetic stocks and offshore fish likely spawn offshore. This occurrence in South Carolina coupled with a healthy, relatively abundant cobia stock has provided the opportunity for anglers to enjoy a very unique encounter and often a successful fishing experience leading to a rise in the fisherys popularity as well as providing an economic win for many coastal communities. Gamefish status will not affect current recreational or commercial size and creel limits of the species, which is currently managed federally by the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council.
Anglers today, more than any other time, are prepared to take reasonable action for the improved, sustainable management of our fisheries said CCA SC executive director Scott Whitaker. This step for cobia, in conjunction with the many other sound fisheries management actions taken by the state of South Carolina, will play a profound role in the future opportunities and enjoyment of our fisheries for years to come.