Fishermen: Catch limits are ruining our industry

The hearing began with a one hour presentation about the amendments for the balck sea bass, wreckfish, and red grouper fisheries. / Lindsey Theis

Area fisherman and community members attended a public hearing hosted by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, or South Atlantic Council Monday night in North Myrtle Beach.

The hearing was regarding three new amendments for catch restrictions on black sea bass, wreckfish, and red grouper. Black sea bass, the most abundant across the Grand Strand coast, was the topic of contention for the majority of those speaking.

"Theres no shortage of black sea bass in the ocean right now," former fisherman Chris Burrows said.

Under the proposal, further restrictions would be implemented on fisherman, both recreational and commercial.

Right now they aren't allow to catch certain fish during certain times of the year, and right now fishing for black sea bass is not allowed. Some suggestions include catch shares, which gives exclusive rights to catch a certain poundage of a species of fish. It's already in effect in the Gulf, New England, the Pacific, and Alaska. It also includes limits on catch size and number of pots (traps) commercial fishermen can use, according to fishery biologist Michael Errigo with the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.

The public comments will be taken into account, along with six other public hearings held across the south Atlantic coast, and then presented with a recommendation to the Secretary of Commerce.

There is some good news for the fishermen concerning catch shares. Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to not fund catch shares research by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.