SUN NEWS: Proposed legislation could lead to larger flounder population in S.C. waters

"A bump up in the size limit could be on the horizon for South Carolina’s population of flounder, and nowhere on the Palmetto State coast is flounder fishing more popular than along the Grand Strand from Georgetown to Little River.

The current minimum size limit for flounder is 14 inches, and proposed legislation calls for a 1-inch increase to 15 inches.

...According to Mel Bell, Director of S.C. DNR’s Office of Fisheries Management, female flounder first mature at 14 inches and begin substantially contributing to the spawn at 15 inches.

Raising the minimum size limit to 15 inches is designed to increase the number of females that successfully migrate into the ocean to spawn in late fall and winter.

'The benefit of going to 15 is allowing the females another year to mature and give them more spawning capacity,' said Bell. 'Excluding the 14-inch fish, we would be reducing the (recreational) catch by 29 percent, and that should be beneficial.'

...Rep. Lee Hewitt, R-Georgetown, a member of the house’s Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee, co-signed the legislation.

Hewitt is a longtime area resident and sees the need to enhance the flounder population.

'I grew up on (Murrells Inlet), I’ve been out there since I was 10 years old, fishing, gigging and crabbing,' said Hewitt.

'(With the 14-inch minimum size limit) we’re taking fish out of the water without them having a chance to reproduce. We’re just trying to give them a chance to reproduce and produce more fish so we have more fish to catch.'

Hewitt has found the increase looks to have solid support in the House of Representatives.

'I’ve personally reached out to every House member who represents the coast seeking their support for the bill and the results have been positive,' said Hewitt."

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