MCCLELLANVILLE, S.C. (WCIV) — Shem Creek isn’t the only spot where shrimp docks are dwindling.
McClellanville is dealing with the same issue, as growth and development slowly gobbles up pricey waterfront property where local fishermen need to dock.
Believe it or not, there are only nine working seafood docks in the entire state of South Carolina.
One of the major unloading wholesale facilities is Carolina Seafood located on one of McClellanville’s last remaining shrimp docks along Jeremy Creek.
While it’s not currently for sale, the East Cooper Land Trust is in the process of protecting the land with a conservation easement in case it ever does.
The easement would go along with the deed of the property, prohibiting development on the property, even if it’s sold later on.
It means the land owner would have to give up some property rights, but will be paid the appraised amount.
“We’re rapidly losing our areas where the seafood can work in Charleston County and in the whole state of South Carolina,” said Catherine Main, executive director for the non-profit. “There are really only three creeks used by the seafood industry right now in Charleston County and we’re very close to losing access to two of those. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.”
Main said they are currently working to appraise Carolina Seafood property. It’s owned and operated by Rutledge Leland who also serves as the town’s mayor. It’s a major player in the seafood business; about 70 percent of the shrimp in Charleston County comes by way of the fish house and roughly 35 percent of the shrimp statewide.
The property is worth millions of dollars, but will likely be appraised for much less.
“I don’t know, I’ve never tried to sell it and I’ve never even considered it,” Leland said. “I was a child here and worked on the docks when I was young.”
Born and raised in McClellanville, Leland said it’s not about the money. He genuinely wants to preserve the old fishing village for generations to come, which means shrimp boats will always have a place to dock. He said the docks service about 20 fishing boats throughout the year.
“I’ve always said to them that I wanted to do everything that I could to make sure they always had a place to unload their seafood,” he said. “There wouldn’t be a domestic seafood industry unless you have a place to unload, an unloading facility because you’ve got to have a place to get the product off the boat in a safe manner. We hope to keep ours like it is.”
It’s preservation also ensures access to local fresh catch. Restaurants like T. W. Graham rely on businesses like Carolina Seafood.
Not only would it be detrimental to my business, but it would be detrimental to the Town of McClellanville,” said owner Patrick Runey. “This is a fishing village, fishing, shrimping, clamming, crabbing, oysters.”
Not everyone is on board with the idea.
Main said the easement is funded through Greenbelt money, which comes from the county’s half-cent sales tax.
Some on the Greenbelt Advisory Board argue Greenbelt money is not supposed to fund the conservation of heritage sites.
https://eastcooperland.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/abc.png281540ECLT/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/ECLT-logo.pngECLT2019-04-17 18:24:292019-04-18 14:24:44Land trust eyeing McClellanville shrimp dock to preserve the industry
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East Cooper Land Trust is a community-supported organization devoted to conserving land to benefit people and the environment both now and forever.