Saving Land for Local Seafood

In February, East Cooper Land Trust submitted five funding applications to the Charleston County Greenbelt Program. Two of them were for conserving land for working waterfronts in McClellanville and Mount Pleasant.

Important aspects of the Charleston County Greenbelt Program include protecting heritage landscapes, productive landscapes and corridors. Defined in the Plan as “irreplaceable cultural and historical landscapes unique to the County,” heritage landscapes preserve our county’s character. “Productive landscapes” include mariculture. “Corridors” include scenic waterways.

Our applications for the Carolina Seafood Property in McClellanville and the Geechie Dock property in Mount Pleasant focused on the following criteria. However, the Charleston County Greenbelt Program subcommittee denied the application for Geechie Dock and suggested we withdraw the application for Carolina Seafood. We are refocusing the Carolina Seafood application on the one acre of greenspace that is also a part of the property and will resubmit it in the following months.

  • They represent the cultural and historical history of the Seafood industry in our communities;
  • They provide a public benefit by fully supporting commercial fishing activities for fishermen- providing key supports such as all tide access, processing facilities, freezer storage, ice, commercial and retail sales, and adequate parking;
  • The very limited land options are under current and emerging threat of conversion to uses incompatible with commercial fishing activities by development and changing population dynamics;
  • They are in communities with a clear and documented desire to maintain and support their commercial fishing enterprises as evidenced by zoning, comprehensive plans, or written support and;
  • They provide a public benefit by making local seafood available to residents in the county, state & beyond;
  • They are active working waterfronts in the seafood industry which is significant to the local, regional, and state fisheries related economies;
  • They are a critical part of the local fishing infrastructure providing key access for the area.

An estimate shows that there are 9 remaining seafood working waterfronts in South Carolina. They are privately-owned, and most are struggling: Murrells Inlet, Georgetown, Jeremy Creek, Shem Creek, Folly, Cherry Point, Bennett’s Point, Beaufort, and Port Royal. Only 7 of these waterfronts have operating fish houses. This can be compared to 83 operating fish houses inventoried in North Carolina in 2012 (Garrity-Blake and Nash 2012). As our coastal communities are experiencing extraordinary growth and the land being used by the commercial seafood industry is threatened by residential and competing commercial uses, it is hard for these fisherman/private owners to hold onto their land. If the land is permanently protected, local fishermen and shrimpers will have the security and certainty they need to make career choices and investments in the industry. Working waterfronts are extremely important to the state’s economy, culture, and history.  Without this certainty, the necessary investments will never be made into this integral part of South Carolina.

Carolina Seafood Property: The six parcels which comprise the Carolina Seafood property are part of an active working waterfront that supports the seafood industry of McClellanville, which is highly significant to the local, regional, and state fisheries-related economies. Through recent conversations with SCDNR’s Office of Fisheries Management, we have determined that this particular working waterfront is responsible for a majority of Charleston County fisheries’ landed pounds and cash value for caught shrimp, oysters, finfish, and clams. As an example, in 2017 Carolina Seafood brought in 71% of the shrimp landed in Charleston County, and 35% of shrimp in the state as a whole. This translates to 67% of the overall cash value for the county, and 34% of sales revenue statewide. Because of this deep cultural significance and economic clout, we believe it is a strong candidate for Charleston County Greenbelt funding in order to secure the protection and future existence of this high impact property in McClellanville’s Historic District. The economic impacts of this landings port for local fishermen may be seen as justification for the higher than average cost per acre associated with this project. Establishing a protective conservation easement on the property will also provide local fishermen and shrimpers with the security and certainty they need to make career choices and investments in the industry and continue to grow the economic value of Carolina Seafood within and beyond Charleston County. Additionally, our organization is a partner on a Municipal Association of South Carolina Hometown Economic Development Grant along with the SC Sea Grant Consortium and consultants at Carolina Common Enterprise to research and develop business management scenarios to keep the McClellanville, SC’s working waterfront viable. The deliverables from this project are expected to a model a working waterfront for McClellanville and guide sustainable business practices from a promotion, development, marketing, and management perspective. The conservation easement will ensure the property will permanently remain available for the local commercial seafood industry, which in turn will provide a benefit to the public as a whole.

DONATE to support our efforts to conserve working waterfronts and other land projects.

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
Post and Courier Article by Bo Peterson April 15, 2019
LIVE5 News April 17, 2019 Alissa Holmes
ABCNEWS4 April 17, 2019
LIVE5News April 17, 2019 Paola Arruda
Post and Courier Article by Bo Peterson April 27, 2019

SC Working Waterfronts
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