Outdoors column: CCA plays key role in oyster recycling

07/17/2014 10:35 PM

07/18/2014 6:26 AM

In this day and age, oyster restoration and enhancement is absolutely essential in maintaining a stable ecosystem that features plenty of pluff mud, Spartina grass and, the main attraction, oyster beds.

Healthy and widespread oyster beds provide numerous benefits to the estuary areas found along South Carolina’s coast, including habitats for fish, crabs and other marine animals, filtering the water and protecting shorelines from erosion.

Returning used shell to its rightful place in the estuaries is a huge task that is taken on by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources’ Oyster Recycling and Restoration Program.

Fortunately in the Palmetto State, S.C. DNR has a key partner that is totally committed to helping out with this critical process.

The state agency gave a tip of the cap earlier this week to Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina, which has rolled up its collective sleeves and gotten down and dirty in the pluff mud to help S.C. DNR’s Oyster Recycling and Restoration Program and the South Carolina Oyster Restoration and Enhancement program (SCORE).

“(CCA has) been very, very instrumental in expanding the program and has been wonderful to work with,” said Ben Dyar, S.C. DNR’s Oyster Shell Recycling and Planting Coordinator. “It’s been a great relationship and partnership.”

CCA SC, headed by Executive Director Scott Whitaker and Topwater Action Campaign Coordinator Gary Keisler, has in recent years donated over $85,000 in equipment to enhance the oyster recycling and restoration program.

The equipment donated by the grass roots organization includes a dump truck, several boats and two trailers.

Numerous CCA volunteers give their time and efforts to participate in S.C. DNR’s oyster recycling projects, such as a recent endeavor that placed bushels of shell in the Woodland Cut area of Murrells Inlet.

Working hand-in-hand with S.C. DNR, CCA has deployed 15,765 bushels of oyster shell (23,707 bags) at 31 oyster reef restoration sites along the South Carolina coast since 2009.

With CCA leading the way, the recycling effort has made an important move inland with the establishment of oyster-recycling locations in Florence and Columbia.

But, as Dyer pointed out, there is still more progress to be made.

S.C. DNR continues to have to purchase shell for the program, and the goal is for all of the shell placed in the estuaries to be recycled shell.

CCA SC is searching for sites in other inland towns such as Aiken, Lexington and Orangeburg to help make oyster shell recycling a state-wide effort.

With CCA SC’s help, Dyer is hoping to soon reach the goal of using all recycled shell in the program.

For more information, visit www.saltwaterfishing.sc.gov/oyster.html or www.score.dnr.sc.gov

MEGADOCK Billfishing Tournament

The Fripp Island crew of Trick ‘Em released one blue marlin and two sailfish for 1,000 points to win the fourth of five tournaments in the South Carolina Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series Saturday at Charleston City Marina.

After winning the MEGADOCK a year ago, Stream Weaver, of Wilmington, N.C., took second place this year after releasing one blue and two sailfish also for 1,000 points.

Trick ‘Em released its final fish to reach 1,000 points earlier than Stream Weaver to claim the win.

Mister Pete of Charleston released four sailfish for 800 points to finish third.

A total of 26 boats competed in the tournament, with 27 sailfish and four blue marlin released. No blue marlin were weighed in.

The 2014 Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series concludes July 23-26 with the Edisto Marina Billfish Tournament.

For more information visit www.govcup.dnr.sc.gov.

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