A pair of fishermen caught operating without permits near Little River were forced to surrender more than 1,000 pounds of fish.
Both men aboard the vessel Oct. 27 stationed near Water Front Avenue were unable to produce proper permits or licenses when asked to do so by officers with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, according to a release from the department.
Department spokeswoman Kaley Lawrimore said nine different types of fish, including sea bass, snapper, mackerel and grouper, were seized. She added that the cobia and yellow snapper on board were out of season.
Neither man was the owner of the vessel, and Lawrimore said she didn’t know what their relationships were with the owner. They were issued a total of five citations and one warning with fines totaling $3,000.
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Officers found that about 25 percent of the fish had already been unloaded and iced for sale, and about 240 pounds had been delivered to a local restaurant, whose staff unknowingly took possession of the illegal catch, the release states.
The restaurant, which Lawrimore declined to name, was allowed to buy the fish from the department at fair market value rather than the department seizing the delivered fish.
The rest of the fish, which officers seized, were eventually sold to the owner of the vessel, who had a wholesale dealers license and Horry County business license, according to the release.
The money paid to the department will be held until after the trial and forfeited to the department if the men are found guilty.
David Weissman: @WeissmanMBO; 843-626-0305