Horry County may join fishermen in fighting bans

An Horry County councilman was alarmed after hearing testimony given by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration this week during a Senate Subcommittee Hearing in Washington, D.C. focused on data the agency collected that led to a federal fishing ban.

"The most alarming thing was basically NOAA said the data they have is 'iffy'. In a lot of words it came down to that. At the end of the day, the data isn't that good and they admit to it," Councilman Brent Schulz, District 2, said.

During Thursday's meeting of Horry County's Committee of the Whole, Schulz proposed a resolution opposing the continued closing of fishing areas off the coast of South Carolina by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the further expansion of the closings under Amendment 17B, prohibiting fishing for the black sea bass.

"Right now, what we've done is try and pull together all the municipalities and we've tried to make people aware of how big this issue is. We have over 1.5 million people who fish here every year and with the closure of black bass it's going to impact not only our tourism but our residents that fish for a living," Schulz added.

Schulz has listened to the concerns of local fishermen. "What I'm hearing from them is, if there's a depletion of the population and it can be proven scientifically, I don't think anyone wants to out-fish the ocean. But, as far as the closure of a species of fish for no reason, they're not for that. I'm not for that," he said.

Schulz said the federal government is now talking about allocating another $18 million in the next budget year for better data collection.

"As a county we're sending out a message to the Feds and the state that we do not support the closure of black bass, we do not support the closure of anything unless we see data that is reliable. And right now we're not seeing any reliable data at all," he added.

Horry County's Committee of the Whole voted to modify the resolution Schulz proposed before members take it up during their regular meeting.