If you’ve found your way to this site, it’s clear you have a stake in the enjoyment of South Carolina’s outdoors and protection of its natural resources. And that means there are some important new changes in state law this year to understand.
Each year, state lawmakers in Columbia pass new legislation that affects guidelines for boating, hunting, fishing, land management and similar topics. The S.C. Department of Natural Resources closely follows the legislative session to stay up to date on potential new regulations and to be able to share any important changes with the public.
Thus, we produced this guide for key changes in effect in 2022. Changes this year will affect boaters, hunters, anglers and property owners, among others.
Bookmark this page as a reference for what’s new this year before you head out to make sure you’re following the law.
What’s New – Boating
Idle speed, effective March 14, 2022
Those going out on the water in South Carolina should be aware of a new law in effect this year about keeping proper distance and an important distinction about the specific bodies of water to which the newly written regulations apply.
Under a law signed into effect in March, it’s illegal to drive a boat, Jet Ski or other personal watercraft faster than idle speed within 100 feet of a wharf, dock, bulkhead or pier or within 50 feet of a moored or anchored boat or someone in the water.
That section of the law applies to only these bodies of water, as listed in the law:
Lake Greenwood, Lake Hartwell, Lake Jocassee, Lake Keowee, Lake Marion, Lake Monticello, Lake Murray, Lake Robinson, Lake Russell, Lake Secession, Lake Thurmond, Lake Wateree, Fishing Creek Reservoir, Parr Reservoir, or the portion of the Savannah River from the Interstate 20 Savannah River Bridge to the New Savannah River Bluff Lock and Dam.
For all other state waters, boaters and watercraft users can’t travel faster than idle speed within 50 feet of docks, bulkheads, piers or people in the water or within 100 yards of the Atlantic Ocean coastline. This part of the law doesn’t apply to moored boats or watercraft that are unoccupied or to someone behind a boat on water skis or other floating device such as a tube.
Violation of the law is a misdemeanor and generally punishable by fines of about $100-$600, depending on court fees in each county jurisdiction. SCDNR regularly patrols state waterways to enforce applicable boating and fishing laws.
Wake surfing, effective March 14, 2022
South Carolina law now prohibits “wake surfing” on all state waters within 200 feet of a dock, a person in the water or an anchored watercraft.
Wake surfing is defined in the law as operating “a vessel that is ballasted in the stern so as to create a wake that is, or is intended to be, surfed by another person.” That’s to say, to drive boats that are designed or set up to create a significant wake.
The new law comes amid increasing popularity in the activity as law enforcement and policymakers looked for ways to keep people and property safe.
Violation of this law is a misdemeanor and generally punishable by fines of about $100-$600, depending on court fees in each county jurisdiction.
What’s New – Hunting
Waterfowl permit fees, effective July 1, 2022
The cost of an annual migratory waterfowl permit required for those who hunt ducks, geese and other waterfowl is now $15.50 for residents and nonresidents, up from $5.50.
Money generated from the permit fee goes to maintaining healthy waterfowl habitat in South Carolina and along the Atlantic Flyway, the migratory path the birds follow each year. At least $250,000 of the waterfowl permit revenue each year must be used to foster healthy waterfowl habitat on the state’s wildlife management areas and leveraged with other available money when possible to maximize the benefit.
The same bill creates the position of waterfowl program manager within SCDNR’s Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries division to oversee waterfowl and wetlands management statewide. A six-person waterfowl advisory committee will be appointed to help oversee that work and to prioritize spending on waterfowl management efforts.
Trapping furbearing animals, effective July 15, 2022
Changes to state law will allow the trapping of furbearing animals on private lands for noncommercial purposes during the established open hunting season for each species, with only a valid hunting license.
Previously, trapping outside of the traditional trapping season (Dec. 1 – March 1) required a depredation permit, predator management permit or occur within 100 yards of a person’s home if necessary to prevent damage from a furbearing animal. Trapping during the trapping season required a commercial furharvest license (trapping license).
The changes also allow for the year-round trapping of beavers on private land for noncommercial purposes with only a valid hunting license.
To comply with the noncommercial designation, individuals can’t take or possess more than five furbearing animals.
The updated law also establishes noncommercial trapping seasons:
- Beaver, year-round
- Raccoon and opossum, March 15-Sept. 15
- Coyote, Dec. 1-March 1
- All other furbearing species, Thanksgiving-March 1
What’s New – Freshwater Fishing
Fishing devices and methods, effective April 11, 2022
New guidelines now in effect require that recreational trot lines be checked at least once every 24 hours, the same requirement that exists for commercial trot lines. Changes also reinstate a ban on nongame fish devices (trot lines, limb lines, jugs, cast nets, etc.) in the lakes and rivers of Game Zone 1.
And state law now prohibits “snagging” fish in all fresh waters.
“Snagging” means pulling a device equipped with one or more hooks through the water to try to impale fish. The practice was previously barred only within 1,000 feet downstream of a dam or hydroelectric facility.
This does not apply to people fishing with lures or baited hooks.
What’s New – Saltwater Fishing
Red snapper fishing, effective May 16, 2022
Red snapper are not often caught within South Carolina state waters, but a new law will allow anglers along the coast to take advantage of some they do encounter. In spring 2022, the South Carolina General Assembly passed legislation that allows for year-round harvest of up to two red snapper per person per day with a minimum size of 20 inches total length in state waters. Anglers need to be aware that possession of red snapper in federal waters is still prohibited outside of the occasional mini-season, and law enforcement will be strictly enforcing this distinction.
What’s New – General
Notice of trespass, effective May 23, 2022
With changes to South Carolina’s trespass law, landowners can now mark property boundaries for trespass notice purposes with a “clearly visible, purple-painted marking,” consisting of one vertical line no smaller than 8 inches long and 2 inches wide, and the bottom of the mark not less than 3 feet or more than 6 feet from the ground or water surface.
The marks must be affixed to immovable, permanent objects that are not more than 100 yards apart and readily visible to any person approaching the property.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on South Carolina Wild are solely those of the authors, and do not reflect official policies, positions, or endorsements of activity or products by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.