Fishing in the southeastern United States is a popular sport amongst recreational anglers. Beyond families and avid fishermen casting a line, the commercial fishing industry is crucial to the economy and feeding people worldwide. South Carolina is an excellent destination to catch both fresh and saltwater fish, and regulations are in place to protect this fish and other species living in these waters. Do fish regulations matter in South Carolina.

Why Are Fishing Regulations In Place

Fish regulations are in place for a multitude of reasons. They are critical in managing all of the factors below.


Assist in maintaining a healthy ecosystem by creating a balance. An overabundance of certain types of fish may cause a decline in other species because of how aggressively they feed. The population of fish lower on the food chain can become decimated if fish high in the food chain are not regulated. 

A second reason that fishing regulations are in place to better keep the ecosystem in place is to balance water quality. For example, some types of fish consume algae or other plant materials, thus reducing overgrowth. 

Protection Of Native Species

Unfortunately, many forms of fresh and saltwater species are introduced to South Carolina waters that were not intended to be there. Nonnative living creatures can disrupt the habitat or consume native species in excess. Fish regulations manage invasive species to protect native species. 

Improving The Quality of Fishing

When anglers cast from the shore, pier, boat, or other structure, they expect to catch fish. There are Stocking programs in place to increase populations where fishing traffic is high, and fish are harvested regularly by anglers.

Without fishing regulations, the waters can become decimated from overfishing. The fish population must be controlled to allow anglers to have productive fishing trips, commercial fishermen to supply seafood to the world, and the ecosystem to remain balanced. This holds true for more than just swimming fish. It relates to all living species in the sea, such as shellfish, crustaceans, and more. 


Many fisherman and nonfisherman enjoy the consumption of seafood. Nearly all seafood is abundant in health benefits, tastes great, and can be prepared in many ways. However, contaminants have entered some of our waterways which can accumulate in the flesh of fish and other sea life. PCB’s, mercury, and lead are all examples. 

South Carolina will designate certain bodies of water with unique regulations to help avoid overconsumption of contaminated fish. The fish regulations are put in place to protect both you and your family. The long-term accumulation of contaminants can result in cancer development. 

Who Manages Fishing Regulations In South Carolina

In South Carolina, two primary organizations manage fishing regulations. The organizations will divide based on what waters they control and regulate. 

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The short-term for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is NOAA. NOAA manages the fishery from 3-200 nautical miles off of the coast of South Carolina.

South Carolina Department Of Natural Resources 

The South Carolina Department Of Natural Resources has a great deal of water to cover. The state of South Carolina has numerous lakes, streams, rivers, reservoirs, coastal and ocean waters. Fortunately, the South Carolina DNR has the resources to manage all of these bodies of water.

Outside Agencies That Control Fish Regulations

Scientists play a significant factor in guiding the South Carolina DNR and NOAA on managing fish regulations properly. Due to extensive research, scientists can track and monitor sea life’s health, the populations, and potential impacts. Without scientists, fisheries would likely be in disarray. 

Do Fishing Regulations Matter In South Carolina Matter

The simple answer is yes. We can’t be selfish at this point and deplete sea life populations.  Protecting the waters helps to promote a better world for future generations. Not only should we monitor the seas, lakes, rivers, ponds, streams, and more, but also everything living beneath the surface. Equally as important is protecting ourselves. Follow the guidelines on consuming seafood in areas that have been contaminated. Follow the fish regulations and enjoy all that the water has to offer.