Conservationists provide critical funding for water monitoring program
Columbia, S.C. – As part of its commitment to improving both coastal habitat and saltwater recreational angling opportunities, Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina has announced it will provide $5,400 in funding for the continued operation of the water monitoring station at the end of Apache Pier in Horry County this summer.
“CCA South Carolina could not be more pleased to be working with scientists on a research project that provides such critical information,” said Michael Smith, CCA South Carolina state chairman. “This project is another example of CCA’s members and volunteers continued commitment to science-based fisheries management as well as the recreational angling community.”
In 2004, unusually large catches of flounder in the waters off the Myrtle Beach area, often called Long Bay, were determined to have been caused by a hypoxic, or low-oxygen, zone in the water that drove fish toward the shoreline. As a result of that event, in 2006 the S.C. Department of Natural Resources installed water quality monitoring equipment that was maintained by researchers at Coastal Carolina University’s Environmental Quality Laboratory. The monitoring station provides the tools to review oxygen levels, water temperatures, salinity levels, and other environmental conditions along the coast. In August 2009, the water quality monitors indicated that Long Bay had experienced another hypoxia event, alerting fisheries managers and scientists to the conditions in Long Bay. As a result, scientists from SCDNR, CCU and USC are much closer to identifying the conditions that cause such events.
However, state agencies such as the SCDNR and state-supported research programs such as CCU are dealing with severe budget cuts and programs such as the water-monitoring station are being forced to look for new sources of funding to continue operations.
“The need for our state and federal management agencies to produce accurate science has never been more acute, but just as funding requirements to meet that need are rising, budgets are shrinking,” said Mike Able, CCA national board member. “With this small project, CCA South Carolina is stepping up to the plate and simply doing what it can to support the data-gathering process that is so critical to building trust between fisheries managers and the angling community.”
CCA SC’s Topwater Action Campaign was established in 2008 with a focus on oyster recycling, habitat enhancement and restoration, water quality, and education. The program has established itself as a “hands-on” component of CCA’s mission to be resource-first, science-based, advocates for angling.
“When we see something happen on the coast that affects our marine resources, we all want to know what caused it, and then fix it as quickly as possible,” said Scott Whitaker, executive director of CCA South Carolina. “That’s why we created the Topwater Action Campaign as a way for members to be involved and make a difference right here at home. We have members ready and willing to get muddy making an oyster reef or contributing funds to monitor water quality. We all just want healthy marine resources.”