The Farmer And The Dolphin is the story of an 86-year-old World War II U.S. Navy veteran who found himself unfairly charged with the killing of a dolphin while vacationing along the South Carolina coast. For more than 40 years, C.P. Mincey, a farmer from rural Marion County, S.C., had fished with a lightweight gill net in front of his vacation home on Garden City Beach, S.C. On an autumn morning in 2013 Mincey walked down to the strand and found a dead dolphin in his net. Within hours he was cited by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Mincey’s fine was set at $6500. Despite the long odds against him, Mincey chose to fight the U.S. government in court with the help of LaFon LeGette, a veteran attorney from Latta, S.C. In a 15-month-long battle, Mincey took on NOAA, the government agency that brought the charge against him. This unusual case was argued in a courtroom at Georgetown, S.C., before a federal administrative law judge in July 2014. And in January 2015 the judge ruled for Mincey and against NOAA.
William Walker is a South Carolina-born writer with a lifelong interest in the state’s Pee Dee region. Walker, from Nichols in Marion County, worked as a reporter and editor in the United States and Europe for more than four decades and has written and edited for newspapers and magazines on assignments in over 50 countries.
At Garden City Beach, where no one seemed to hurry, the first indication of trouble was the staccato rumble of footsteps on the stairs. A sharp knock at the door came next. And when 86-year-old Betty Mincey opened up she faced law officers wearing guns. Three men, two from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and a federal agent from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, had come to investigate the report of a dead dolphin taken in a net in front of the Mincey house that morning, Nov. 3, 2013. Yes, her husband C.P. was home, she told the officers. He was down below on the beach fishing with his grandson. With that news, the officers hurried back down the stairs and onto the strand in front of 939 Waccamaw Avenue in Garden City. There they found Mincey, an 86-year-old WWII U.S. Navy veteran, surf fishing with his grandson and great grandson.