Paddle races July 22
at Butterbean Beach
Water recreation enthusiasts are encouraged to show off their paddle skills and help raise money for Ogeechee Riverkeeper at the nonprofit organization’s inaugural Moon River Race the morning of July 22 at the Rodney J. Hall Boat Ramp (Butterbean Beach), 25 Diamond Causeway.
Contestants in kayaks and on stand-up paddle boards are welcome. Race check-in begins at 6:30 a.m. with the 4-mile Moon River race starting at 8 a.m. and the 1-mile Butterbean Beach race kicking off at 8:15 a.m. Competitors in the four-mile paddle start at Butterbean Beach and will travel up and back down the Moon River, making their way through a well-marked course to cross under the Moon River bridge. The 1-mile Butterbean Beach fun race is for beginners and those eager to try their hand at kayak and SUP racing.
An awards ceremony is at 11 a.m. There also will be a fun, special award for the best-dressed racer from either race, who will receive a gift certificate to the vintage clothing store, House of Strut.
Ogeechee Riverkeeper is in need of volunteers to help make this race a success. Volunteer duties include helping time races, aiding racers with loading and unloading equipment, and helping keep racers hydrated. Those interested can contact Ogeechee Riverkeeper at email@example.com or 866-942-6222.
This race is limited to competitors age 16 and up. Race entry costs $40 per person. Race entry includes an event T-shirt. Registration closes July 21. To register, go to www.paddleguru.com/races/2017MoonRiverRacetoBenefittheOgeecheeRiverkeeper.
For more information about this inaugural race or Ogeechee Riverkeeper, go to www.ogeecheeriverkeeper.org.
New size, bag limits
for flounder start July 1
On July 1, legislation recently passed by the South Carolina General Assembly will increase the size limit and lower the bag and boat limits for southern, summer and Gulf flounder in state waters.
Flounder rank among South Carolina’s top three most popular fish for recreational anglers, and South Carolina Department of Natural Resources research has shown declines in their numbers over the past two decades. The new measures are intended to help rebuild flounder populations by giving more fish a chance to reproduce before they reach a harvestable size.
The regulations taking effect July 1 will change the minimum legal size for flounder from 14 inches (total length) to 15 inches (total length). Additionally, changes to the bag limit will reduce the number of fish an individual can keep from 15 flounder per day to 10 flounder per day, with a maximum boat limit of 20 flounder per day.
“The Coastal Conservation Association came to SCDNR a couple of years ago with concerns about the state’s flounder population – just as SCDNR scientists were examining survey data that indicated the flounder population was in decline,” said David Whitaker, assistant deputy director of the agency’s Marine Resources Division. “We’ve been working since then to develop recommendations for the legislature to address the decline in the state’s flounder population.”
The changes passed in the 2017 legislative season mark the first adjustments to flounder regulations since 2007.
“The new size and bag limits should be effective in increasing the number of spawning flounder, and hopefully that should result in a recovery of the flounder population,” Whitaker said.
SCDNR biologists study flounder in a number of ways. The fish are frequently caught and released on SCDNR trammel net surveys, which have been used to study the fish in South Carolina estuaries since 1990. Trammel net data have shown a decline in flounder numbers since the late 1990s. Flounder are also seen in the trawl surveys conducted just off the coast by the Southeast Area Monitoring & Assessment Program. Recreational landings of flounder have also declined in recent years, even as the number of registered saltwater anglers has grown in South Carolina.
“Our assessment of the new limits indicates that about 30 percent fewer fish will be taken in the first year or two,” said Whitaker. “But with time, we hope the population grows and that total catch will increase as more spawners are available to provide more young fish.”