Saving Land for Local Seafood

East Cooper Land Trust is working to save access to and for our local seafood industry both on Jeremy Creek in McClellanville and on Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant. As coastal communities like ours are experiencing extraordinary growth, the land being used by the commercial seafood industry is threatened by residential and competing commercial uses. If the land is permanently protected, local fishermen and shrimpers will have the security they need to make career choices and investments in the industry. If we do not act now to permanently protect land along our industrial waterfronts, we are at risk of losing access to local seafood in our state. In the blink of an eye, it could be gone.

As part of a Hometown Economic Development Grant, East Cooper Land Trust is working with the Town of McClellanville, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium and Carolina Common Enterprise to help facilitate a master plan for the future of the Town’s seafood industry. This may include the permanent conservation of several parcels for the exclusive use of the seafood industry.

Mount Pleasant
There are only three privately-owned properties within the Shem Creek Waterfront Overlay District in use for the local seafood industry. Of the three, the Wando Dock property has the most potential for allowing a sustainable seafood industry on Shem Creek. Not only is dock space needed, but also land for processing, retail and provisions.

East Cooper Land Trust made a competitive offer to the landowners of Wando Dock; however, a contract has already been signed with Brett Elrod. East Cooper Land Trust is skeptically optimistic about this contract and the long-term plan of the buyer. Land trust staff talked with Mr. Elrod in July and again on August 1; he said there is no plan yet, but that a component of personal use, like mooring recreational vessels, would be necessary to make the project financially feasible.

True revitalization necessitates 100% protection of this parcel as it is one of the largest fish houses still in use. The fishermen cannot afford to lose any more working waterfront, making it even more important that the full property and all docks be permanently conserved. East Cooper Land Trust supports a solution that involves permanent protection and the opportunity to revitalize the entire Wando Dock Property for the seafood industry. Anything less could handicap the already struggling local fleet and eventually contribute to its demise.

If the current contract falls through, we hope for the opportunity to negotiate a purchase. We believe we could raise the money without having to compromise the protection of the property by turning to personal uses as a source of funding. For example, as a nonprofit land trust, we can apply for grants for acquisition and facility improvements that are not available to private entities. If Mr. Elrod purchases the property, East Cooper Land Trust would like to work with him to create and hold a conservation easement that would permanently protect the entire property for commercial fishing use and public benefit.

PLEDGE for acquisition of Wando Dock, contingent on a contract being accepted.

Media Coverage:
Post and Courier Article by Bo Peterson July 13, 2018
Post and Courier Editorial July 19, 2018
ABCNEWS 4 July 19, 2018
Moultrie News OpEd by Catherine Main July 23, 2018
LIVE 5 News July 23, 2018
Moultrie News Article by Sully Witte July 24, 2018
Post and Courier OpEd by Cheryl Woods-Flowers July 25, 2018
Moultrie News Article by Sully Witte August 1, 2018
Post and Courier Article by Bo Peterson August 1, 2018
News2 August 1, 2018

Wando Dock on Map of Shem Creek
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SC Working Waterfronts
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