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#06-42 February 20, 2006

Red drum/circle hooks seminar to be held Feb. 23 in Beaufort

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources along with the ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve invite the public to attend a special presentation Thursday, Feb. 23 by a state marine biologist featuring topics on red drum in the Lowcountry and the benefits of using circle hooks.

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve have partnered with the Port Royal Sound Conservancy and the Beaufort Sportfishing and Diving Club to host the event. The seminar will take place 7-9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23 at the Technical College of the Lowcountry Auditorium in Beaufort and will be given by DNR marine biologist Charlie Wenner. The Technical College of the Lowcountry is located at 921 Ribaut Road (across from the Beaufort Memorial Hospital). For more information, contact Al Segars at (843) 770-9908, or Anna Martin at (843) 953-3367 in Charleston for more information.

There are 26 designated reserves in the United States and two in South Carolina (ACE and North Inlet/ Winyah Bay). For more information on the ACE Basin and the National Estuarine Research Reserve system, visit these Web sites:  http://nerrs.noaa.gov/ACEBasin/ and http://www.dnr.sc.gov/marine/mrri/acechar/index.html.

The Marine Resources Research Institute of the DNR has been conducting intensive studies on the natural history and dynamics of recreationally important inshore fish in South Carolina’s estuaries and bays since 1986. A major objective in the studies has been to obtain scientific knowledge required to develop policies and regulations that protect and maintain these economically and ecologically valuable resources, including the red drum. Wenner’s publication, “Red Drum: Natural History and Fishing Techniques in South Carolina” was the first produced in a series of educational reports that shares with the public the important findings of the DNR’s ongoing research. The book also features fishing techniques for anglers of all skill levels, in addition to a segment devoted to the importance of conservation practices.

Wenner will share highlights from his popular book as well as provide a detailed analysis of recent research supporting the benefits of circle hook usage by recreational fishermen. The increasing popularity of recreational fishing in South Carolina demands effective conservation practices to ensure healthy fish populations, and notably the red drum. Because of the unique design of circle hooks, fish are almost always hooked in the mouth, whereas other hooks are more likely to hook fish in the gut or gills. The conclusive study, which found that fish mortality rates decline with the practice of catch and release using non-offset circle hooks, is an important step forward in efforts to conserve fish populations in South Carolina.

The Ashepoo, Combahee, and South Edisto Basin, (ACE Basin), represents one of the East coast’s largest underdeveloped estuaries, with 350,000 acres of protected land. The ACE Basin Project was established in 1988, and collaborative partnerships, combined with a vision of nurturing a world-class ecosystem, have helped to sustain an ideal home for a wide range of wildlife species. Habitat diversity, coupled with the absence of industrial pollution and the undeveloped nature of the ACE Basin contribute to the health of many terrestrial and aquatic species. An educated community is the key to the ACE Basin’s future habitat survival and species’ protection.

The ACE Basin project was designated as part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve in 1992. The National Estuarine Research Reserve system is a network of protected areas established for long-term research, education and stewardship. This partnership program between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the coastal states protects more than one million acres of estuarine land and water, which provides essential habitat for wildlife; offers educational opportunities for students, teachers and the public; and serves as living laboratories for scientists.

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