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Edisto tourney fishermen under state microscope

A state investigation into whether or not several sharks were illegally caught during a recent Edisto Shark Tournament is still ongoing, with officials saying fines and/or arrests could be announced within the coming week.
The active investigation by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources was launched two weeks ago on June 10th when social media pictures from the fishing tourney prompted state law enforcement leaders to ask whether or not several sharks that were caught and brought onto the decks are protected under state and federal laws. Three photos posted by anglers who participated in the local tournament show what appears to be either a dusky or sandbar species of sharks: however, these specific species are protected by federal laws. The laws are in place to protect the sharks because of their sensitive and limited migratory pattern, according to state leaders.
If the state investigation rules that these are the species that were caught and brought in to be weighed for the tourney, the anglers and/or captains are facing major fines.
According to S.C. DNR Spokeswoman Kyndel McConchie, no tickets were issued to any fishermen or captains at the weigh-in docks during the local tourney. The S.C. DNR did have officers on boats in the water during the tourney: these officers completed several EAR reports that are given to the federal government to track what is being caught, she said. However, not every boat was checked by a state officer, she said.
“If this investigation results in anyone being fined, those person(s) are facing fines from $10,000 to $150,000, depending on the type of shark that may have been illegally captured,” she said.

The investigation will also determine who can actually be fined: either the captain or the actual fishermen can face the fees.
Sgt. Andrew Godownf is an officer with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. He routinely patrols shark tournaments, especially those in local waters near Edisto Beach and Bennetts Point. According to Godownf, he believes this investigation will prompt this tournament – and others – to become more careful in how the actual tournaments and fishing rodeos are conducted.
“It can get very hectic with so many boats coming in at the same time, and you do have people complaining when they see us on the docks at these tourneys. But if we are not there, this is what can happen,” he said “This is not the tournament’s fault. These tournament leaders tend to be very clear with what they expect and in educating captains. But I do think this entire investigation, no matter the end result, will make shark-fishing tournaments more strict and to have more clearly-defined tourney rules.” According to SCDNR officials, shark tournaments and general fishing tournaments are monitored by federal law and require that federal permits be issued.

Heather Walters (1135 Posts)