Surfside Beach is considering how to adjust its fishing rules now that its main attraction for anglers, the Surfside Pier, is unusable.
The pier, destroyed during Hurricane Matthew last fall, is not expected to be operational again until the summer of 2018. Town officials are considering rules that would limit saltwater fishing to before 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m. during tourist season — May 16 to Sept. 14. Surf fishers would be able to cast withing 300 feet off either side of the pier at any time of day.
Some on council were concerned at a Monday workshop about the potential for anglers to hook tourists instead of fish. One resident said he had seen situations arise that put swimmers in danger.
“We had about 15 kids in the ocean, we had a couple of fishermen come out who had been drinking all day long and they cast their lines,” Harry Coleman said. “They said they were fishing for sharks. That wasn’t a good idea, to draw the sharks to where the kids were.”
Several people said the rules would have to be clear as visitors flood the beach in the summer. Residents suggested flags to mark the fishing zone around the pier, and councilman Randle Stevens suggested buoys in the water.
“We have enforcement issues now long the beach with cigarette smoking, alcohol, tents,” Councilwoman Julie Samples said. “I personally don’t want to see lifeguards checking for fishing licenses.” (Saltwater fishers are required to carry a license from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.)
The proposed rules also would make official Surfside’s mandate not to swim within 300 feet of either side of its pier. Officials already enforce this without it being written into the town’s code.
However, Monday’s suggestions could be adjusted before the rules come to a vote. The rules are not on the schedule for Surfside’s town council meeting Tuesday night.
Currently, Surfside does not have any official regulations on surf fishing or fishing from the sand. Town code, however, does include a prohibition on fishing for sharks. The proposed ordinance would keep that restriction in place.