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News and Notes - Summer 2018
 
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Tank to Table: How Single Oyster Mariculture Works
VOLUME 31, NUMBER 2, SUMMER 2018      
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News and Notes


Marsh Education Program Branches Out

From Seeds to Shoreline® (S2S) usually ends, geographically, at the edge of the marsh. For three groups of students, however, the restoration effort expanded to beachfront dunes in 2018.

S2S is a student-based salt marsh restoration program coordinated by S.C. Sea Grant Consortium with partners at the S.C. Department of Natural Resources and Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service. Since the program’s inception in 2011, S2S participants have transplanted thousands of Spartina alterniflora seedlings grown in school greenhouses to South Carolina marshes. S. alterniflora is the dominant grass in the state’s salt-marsh environment as well as an ideal keystone species for understanding the rich estuarine environment it inhabits.

Teachers participating in S2S bring their students and seedlings to marsh settings at the end of the school year for restoration day field trips. Mike Walker, an interpretive ranger at Huntington Beach State Park, has helped with S2S plantings at the park for years. After keeping a batch of seabeach amaranth (Amaranthus pumilus) seeds in his freezer for a decade, he asked horticulturist Kelley Nash at neighboring Brookgreen Gardens if she could germinate them.

Seabeach amaranth, once found along much of the eastern United States coastline, is a federally threatened species that grows in the wild only in South Carolina, North Carolina, and New York. Its habitat has been impacted by beachfront development and beach renourishment projects.

Nash worked her magic on the seeds, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service botanist April Punsalan provided expertise and assisted with obtaining federal permits to allow the planting.

Walker had dozens of seedlings ready to plant in May 2018.

A group of students work on planting.

Students from Ocean Bay Middle School helped plant seabeach amaranth seedlings in the dunes at Huntington Beach State Park. PHOTO/JOEY HOLLEMAN/S.C. SEA GRANT CONSORTIUM


Groups from three Georgetown and Horry county schools – Carolina Forest High School, Ocean Bay Middle School, and Coastal Montessori Charter – headed from the marsh to the beach at the end of their restoration days. They dug holes in the loose sand at the foot of dunes near a park walkover, added water, and placed the seabeach amaranth roots in the holes.

Seabeach amaranth grows closer to the open ocean than any other vascular plant, yet its stalks are delicate, Walker said. He and Nash asked the students to gently pile sand slightly up the stalks to give extra support.

Just as Spartina root systems help protect the edges of marshes from erosion, seabeach amaranth roots help collect sand important to dune-building. Unlike Spartina, which is a rugged perennial grass that can survive for years, the seabeach amaranth is an annual plant. The seedlings planted in May won’t survive through the end of the year. But if they make it long enough to disperse seeds into the wind, those seeds could grow into new amaranth in 2019.

McClellanville Looks at Waterfront Options

The seafood industry is the lifeblood of the small South Carolina town of McClellanville, but the people who have managed the processing and distribution of the catch for decades are aging and the future of their docks is in doubt.

That’s what brought about 30 people together on April 24, 2018 at McClellanville Town Hall to discuss future options, including the potential for a fishing cooperative.

“It’s time to plan for the next thing,” said Thomas Beckett, executive director of Carolina Common Enterprise. “It’s time to find a way to continue to do what you already do very well.”

The two-hour session was the second in a series of meetings funded by a Hometown Economic Development Grant awarded by the Municipal Association of South Carolina to the town and its partners, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, East Cooper Land Trust, and Carolina Common Enterprise.

Beckett’s organization researched how fishing cooperatives work in other locales and met with local stakeholders to learn the intricacies unique to McClellanville. He intends to put together potential business plans.

The local industry has some hurdles in its future. The largest of two commercial docks, Carolina Seafood, has been managed by owner Rutledge Leland since 1972. Leland can’t go on forever, and nobody has stepped forward to buy his business.

Bill and Kathy Livingston, owners of the smaller dock at Livingston’s Bulls Bay Seafood, also are from Leland’s generation. While their sonin- law, Jeff Massey, has assumed some of the management responsibilities for the dock, the future of their business in that location is far from certain.

Boat captains at the meeting were searching for some hope for a stable distribution future in McClellanville. That’s the key to maintaining the fishing village’s cultural identity, they said.

The cooperatives Beckett discussed, Walking Fish in North Carolina and Heritage Shellfish in New Jersey, take varied approaches. Walking Fish is a communitysupported fishery in which a few members pre-pay for a season of seafood. Heritage Shellfish was formed by three clam harvesters to market their product under the Eventide Littlenecks brand.

An option for a cooperative in McClellanville could feature aspects of both of those business plans. Seafood with an official McClellanville brand could draw higher prices in local restaurants and retail stores. Or maybe a pre-pay version supported by select restaurants would work.

Cooperatives typically hire someone to handle the supply logistics, something Leland and the Livingstons now do. Leland is convinced the best way forward is to freeze more of the product straight off the boats. Shrimp, for instance, often are caught in large quantities over short periods of time. Freezing some of the large hauls allows distributors to stretch out sales over several months rather than forcing the quick turnover of perishable fresh inventory. Leland has minimal freezer space at Carolina Seafood. He suggested that a larger freezing facility could be a key to keeping McClellanville’s seafood industry healthy.

Some boat captains noted that the priority should be keeping the local docks open. They fear the waterfront property would be desirable for high-end residential development.

On that topic, Catherine Main, executive director of East Cooper Land Trust, suggested the possibility of purchasing a cultural conservation easement on the Carolina Seafood property. In such an arrangement, a land owner puts restrictions on the future use of property. In return for those restrictions, the property owner is paid or gets tax deductions. Under the right circumstances, Leland said, he would consider an easement.

Even if the dock space is assured, however, somebody will have to run the business. Julie Davis, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium’s living marine resources specialist, suggested treating the situation as if writing a real estate ad or posting a help-wanted ad for a job. Stress the positives: historically strong community support, a product people want to buy, suppliers willing to do the hard work to obtain the product, and a great view from the office window.

If the dock’s future can be worked out, would someone capable of running a seafood distribution business be intrigued enough by that description to take on the acknowledged challenges in McClellanville?

Narayana, Moylan Join Consortium Staff

Photo of C. Narayana. Two new staff members have joined the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium – Crystal Narayana as web developer and graphic artist and Shaun Moylan as information technology resources manager.

Narayana, who has a B.A. degree in Linguistics from Ohio State University, began her career as web developer and graphic designer for Arc of Appalachia, a regional nature conservation organization based in Ohio.Photo of Shaun Moylan. She eventually served as their program director, facilitating and promoting education events. More recently, she worked with multiple clients as a web developer for NuGrowth Solutions.

Moylan, who has a B.S. degree in Information Systems and Decision Sciences from Louisiana State University, has 11 years of IT management experience. During that time, he handled IT support, planning, security, implementation, and disaster recovery for companies in the hospitality industry.

STAFF PHOTOS/SUSAN FERRIS HILL/S.C. SEA GRANT CONSORTIUM

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Last updated: 7/16/2018 1:12:03 PM

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