Changes coming to blue crab fishing in the Lowcountry
JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - Some changes are coming to the crabbing industry as both recreational and industrial crabbers are reporting low numbers of blue crabs in our state’s waters. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is hosting 3 public meetings next week to discuss the dwindling numbers of blue crabs and ways they can manage the population and prevent overharvesting.
Eliminating some harvesting spots and crab traps along South Carolina’s coastline are just some of the recommendations from the DNR’s General Assembly. Following crabber concerns earlier this year, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources agency biologists and staff began compiling a report outlining the state’s blue crab population status, its commercial and recreational fisheries, and the results of public surveys on management options.
Fall is the season when most crabs are harvested commercially, so with that time of year approaching, DNR officials want to step in with regulations to protect the blue crab population.
Some of the proposed changes include limiting the number of crabbing licenses, setting a maximum number of crab traps permitted, and increased funding for “new, essential blue crab-focused biological, population and fishery data collection and monitoring efforts.”
Director of the Office of Fisheries Management Ben Dyer is a presenter at next week’s meeting and says that a big part of the decline in blue crab population has to do with climate change and drier weather.
“There are many factors involved, but what we have been seeing since a drought starting in 2000, is when the declining numbers started to happen. And not only are we seeing those in South Carolina, but we’re seeing them region-wide across the South Atlantic,” Dyer said. “Some of those driving factors that we have been noticing are environmental factors, so warming trends, drier trends that we’re seeing in some of the weather is potential drivers for some of those numbers.”
Here is the public meeting information:
- Wednesday, September 27, 2023: Marine Resources Research Institute Auditorium; 217 Fort Johnson Road; Charleston, SC 29422
- Wednesday, October 4, 2023: Port Royal Sound Foundation Maritime Center; 310 Okatie Highway; Okatie, SC 29909
- Date and location TBD: Murrells Inlet; Details will be provided as soon as they are available.
All three meetings will begin at 6:30 p.m.
SCDNR says to keep an eye on their social media and website for more updates.
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