By Brett Witt for the Island Eye News
Shrimp-baiting season closed November 12 in S.C. waters
The 2013 shrimp-baiting season closed on noon Tuesday, November 12. The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Law Enforcement Division in Charleston advises baiters not to have bait or poles in a boat that is in the water after noon on November 12. 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.
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. 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. Recent sampling by DNR’s Crustacean Monitoring Program caught fair numbers of shrimp along the southern coast and average quantities near Charleston, according to Larry DeLancey, program supervisor, but overall size is smaller than usual. Areas around Port Royal and St. Helena Sounds produced the largest shrimp.
The shrimp baiting 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. When taking shrimp over bait, no cast net may be used having a mesh smaller than one-half inch square measure or one inch stretch measure.
Dove hunting resumes November 23
The 2013-14 mourning dove seasons in South Carolina will resume as follows: November 23-30; and December 19-Jan. 15. Legal hunting hours for mourning dove season are from 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset. The daily bag limit is 15 birds per day. The state’s mourning dove season is set each year by the S.C. Natural Resources (DNR) Board within a framework of regulations and timetables issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The arrival of “late season” migratory doves can drastically improve hunting opportunity on public and private dove fields across the state. Those hunters willing to scout for concentrations of doves during this time of year are often rewarded by opportunities which equal or exceed those found during the early segment of the season. A county-by-county list of the forty-three public dove fields can be obtained by calling (803) 734-3886 in Columbia.
Hunters participating in public dove hunts on DNR Wildlife Management Area dove fields should be aware of special regulations in place on these fields. Hunters may not take shooting positions on public fields before noon. Hunters will be restricted to 50 shells per hunt on all Wildlife Management Area (WMA) public dove fields. Find a list of public dove fields around the state at http://www.dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/dove/pdf/dovefields20132014.pdf.
Individuals who plan to hunt on public dove fields will need a South Carolina hunting license and a Wildlife Management Area permit. Also, all persons hunting migratory birds (including doves) are required to have a migratory bird permit. Migratory bird permits can be obtained free-of-charge at all hunting and fishing license vendors.
2013 Environmental Awareness award nominations sought
The State of South Carolina’s top honor for stewardship of the natural world will be awarded again soon and sponsoring agencies are putting out a call for your nominations. The Environmental Awareness Award recognizes South Carolinians who are doing extraordinary work on behalf of our environment. Nominations will be accepted through January 31, 2014.
Each year the public is invited to submit nominations to the awards committee. This committee is made up of representatives from the state’s natural resource agencies, including the South Carolina Forestry Commission, the Department of Health and Environmental Control, the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. The requirements are high. Candidates should demonstrate innovation and leadership. His or her accomplishments will have led to positive change or may have influenced matters affecting the natural environment.
Chairman and Treasurer for the Conestee Foundation, Thomas Kester, was recognized for the 2012 award for his volunteer efforts as part of the Foundation to acquire an old mill lakebed and turn it into a wildlife refuge and nature park for public use
Chances are you or someone you know is working hard on behalf of the environment everyday and should be recognized like Mr. Kester. The nomination form along with application guidelines and a brief history of the award can be found at: http://www.dnr.sc.gov/news/scenvironawareaward.html
The S.C. General Assembly established the S.C. Environmental Awareness Award in 1992. It’s now in its 21th year recognizing outstanding contributions made toward the protection, conservation, and improvement of South Carolina’s natural resources.