The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) is asking the public to practice catch and release of spotted seatrout.
This comes as the unusually cold weather grips South Carolina this month making water temperatures along the coast deadly for many marine animals.
SCDNR said sustained water temperatures below 48 degrees Fahrenheit can injure or kill marine animals.
Seatrout are one of the fish hit hardest by the low temperatures and are the second most popular recreational fish in S.C., DNR says.
And SCDNR said that shortly after the first week of January they and the public reported dead fish and shrimp along the shores of tidal marshes and saltwater impoundments.
Members of the public have also reported numerous species of fish killed, including mullet, red drum, spotted seatrout, and sheepshead.
The agency acted quick by closing the shrimp trawl season.
The Charleston County Harbor experienced a daily average low of 42 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, January 7.
Currently, the 2017-2018 winter ranks as the coast’s fifth coldest since recordkeeping began in 1950.
SCDNR biologists will be monitoring all the species of fish mentioned above, but that they remained most concerned about spotted seatrout.
This precautionary measure will be in place until the end of September said SCDNR.
“Seatrout numbers have been above average in South Carolina in recent years," said agency spokesperson Phil Maier. "We hope that strong starting point, combined with voluntary conservation efforts by anglers, will help the fish recover quickly."
Spotted seatrouts also suffered cold winter kills in 2010-2011, 2009-2010, and 2000-200. Full recover took several years in each case.