Lowcountry fishermen upset over new federal regulations

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Fishermen from all over the state are fighting federal regulations that may close seasons indefinitely and put restrictions on some fish populations.

Fisherman of the Lowcountry showed up in schools Wednesday night at a meeting to sound off on new fishing regulations. The support even surprised seasoned veteran Kim Iverson.

"I've been doing this for eleven years and this is the largest crowd that we've seen in Charleston," Iverson said.

Commercial, charter and recreational fisherman like Ace Parker banded together to express concerns over new fishing regulations.

"They're taking something away from you that traditionally has been a part of your life and they're taking it away from you based on inaccurate skewed data," Parker said. "My biggest thing is show me the data. Show me what the problem is and they can't really do that."

They would be the federal government, and fishermen are furious with new rules that will further narrow what they are able to catch on the high seas.

Fishing of red snapper could be indefinitely suspended and black sea bass is next on the list.

"It's gonna keep snowballing until they include everything," Parker said. "And that's gonna be at the point that you'll have to buy a license for every single fish. You're not going to catch enough fish to make it worthwhile. It doesn't even make any sense."

Steve Fralin is the captain of Ugly Ducklin Charters. He said he'll have to fire a captain he recently hired because he won't get enough business even though he thinks fish populations are still high.

Sera Drevenak works for the Pew Environmental Group and is a supporter of the fishing closures.

"It's like going to the dentist for a checkup instead of waiting until you're full of cavities - doing the limits now make it possible to prevent over fishing so we don't have to do the kinds of drastic measures that we've had to do over the last year or so," Drevenak said.

Drevenak did say that once populations return, seasons for these fish will be opened little by little, avoiding overfishing as much as possible. According to fishermen, the economic toll of missing out for any length of time will be staggering.

The South Atlantic Fishing Management council will hold more public hearing meetings for the new regulations. Next on the line is Pooler, Ga. Thursday afternoon.

Copyright WCSC 2011. All rights reserved.