DNR backs higher fees for anglers
Resident saltwater fishing licenses could jump from $5.50 to $10
Saturday, February 17, 2001
BY LYNNE LANGLEY
Of The Post and Courier staff
Saltwater fishing licenses could nearly double
in price for residents and increase nearly seven-fold for nonresidents
under a plan endorsed by the state wildlife board Friday.
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources
Board voted unanimously to direct staff to work on seeking a fee structure
that mirrors that of the freshwater fishing license, $10 annually
or $5 for four days for state residents and $35 annually or $11 for
seven-day licenses for nonresidents.
The current resident fee of $5.50 is the
second-cheapest in the country and compares to a coastal average of
$12, according to Wayne Waltz, assistant director of the Office of
Nonresident licenses, now $5.50 here, average
Sports fishermen must buy the license to
fish from boats (other than charter boats) in saltwater and to harvest
oysters or clams. The license isn't required for shrimping, crabbing,
or fishing from shore or piers.
About 103,000 people purchased a license
- formerly a stamp - last year, which brought in about $550,000.
The additional money brought in would go
toward expanding or starting projects that benefit sports fishermen
and their marine quarry: artificial reefs, public shellfish ground
planting, free tagging kits to encourage tag-and-release fishing,
and education and research on species such as red drum.
The only public comment during meetings Thursday
and Friday in Charleston came from the S.C. Coastal Conservation Association,
which endorsed the plan for saltwater license fees in line with freshwater
The higher fees also will bring in more national
money, Executive Director Scott Whitaker said.
He urged requiring licenses for shore-based
fishermen, about a third of saltwater fishermen, he estimated.
That would help the department more fully
assess the recreational impact on marine resources, which is critically
important, Natural Resources Director Paul Sandifer said.
Department staff and the board's Marine Advisory
Committee had twice recommended pursuing a fee hike after surveys
of fishermen showed support. The full board delayed action last September
until new surveys could be done.
Support for a higher fee ranged from a low
of 47 percent (among shrimp baiters) to a high of 60 to 100 percent
among various clubs, Waltz reported Friday.
The greatest number voted for a resident
fee of $10 to $10.50, and 80 percent favored a higher nonresident
fee with $35 being the top vote-getter.
Fishermen indicated they'd like to have shore-based
anglers buy a license as well, Waltz said.
Prices have not risen since the saltwater
stamp was introduced in July of 1992.
A fee increase needs approval from the Legislature.