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April 11, 2008

Striped bass stakeholders continue fishery discussion

The Striped Bass Stakeholders group met Saturday, April 5 to discuss what further actions must be taken to restore the striped bass fishery on the Santee Cooper system while awaiting word on how the state Senate will vote on their recommendations. The recommendations to the General Assembly are considered a vital piece in a multi-step process to bring back the fishery.

Saturday's meeting served as the first in a series to discuss 11 topics beyond legislative regulations affecting the overall health of the fishery. Subsequent meetings are being planned for late May or early June. A variety of experts will present topics on the decline in striped bass, such as where scientific research is lacking and steps that can be taken to reverse the decline.

All stakeholders present ranked the topics according to importance, which included:

"The objective of these meetings will be to develop recommendations that will resolve the basic problem of high fingerling mortality and other issues and improve the overall fishery," said Gerald Hayes, a stakeholder from Monck's Corner. "Clearly the key to our success or failure in restoring the striped bass fishery lies in these recommendations and how well they are followed and implemented."

DNR, in conjunction with the General Assembly, appointed members to the Striped Bass Stakeholders Group in September 2007 to address the striped bass population decline in the Santee Cooper system. The group, made up of state representatives, state senators, professional guides, conservation group leaders, recreational anglers, landowners, and members of the tourism industry was asked to review Santee Cooper fishery research and develop consensus recommendations to present to the General Assembly in 2008.  The group, after five meetings for discussion, was able to come to a consensus on recommendations for regulation change prior to presenting them to the state House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on January 9, 2008.

The House of Representatives voted February 22, 2008 to approve the five recommendations on the striped bass fishery in the Santee Cooper system presented prior to the bill being introduced to the Senate on February 26.

The Stakeholders recommendations are:

DNR protects and manages South Carolina's natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state's natural resources and its people.

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