Waddell Mariculture Center
The state has approximately 325,000 saltwater anglers and 111,000 anglers purchase saltwater fishing licenses. Freshwater and saltwater fishermen expenditures in SC rank number 8 in the US at $1.5 billion dollars. Anglers support and or create 25,500 jobs. Saltwater Fishing Economic Impact (www.asafishing.org) 2006 South Carolina identifies the following economic values related to SC recreational fisheries.
Retail sales: $681 million
Total multiplier: $1.1billion
Salaries, Wages, Business earning: $334 million
State and local tax revenues: $64 million
SC fishermen spend millions of dollars a year in the pursuit of red drum, South Carolina's most popular saltwater sports fish. The economic impact to the state is more than $150,000,000.
We have the best red drum fishery on the East coast. Waddell's red drum stock enhancement program is responsible for that continuing success having stocked over 18,000,000 fish in SC waters. These fish populations are monitored using DNA technology developed by SCDNR.
South Carolina fishermen spend over $ 3,000,000 a year in the pursuit of our cobia (85% of the cobia captured in the state is captured in Beaufort County).
Port Royal Sound is probably the most significant spawning ground for cobia on the East Coast. According to DNA research, up to 40% of the inshore cobia caught the last two years by fishermen were spawned at Waddell and stocked by SCDNR. Waddell has stocked over 68,000 juvenile cobia in Beaufort County waters in the past 6 years. The center has stocked 4 ponds with approximately 4 million cobia eggs and larvae this year. Eight adult fish were donated to the center by recreational fishermen.
WMC has stocked over 700,000 Striped Bass, in SC fresh and salt waters, reviving a Charleston's saltwater striped bass fishery that had long been decimated by pollution and habitat loss. The center has 5 families groups of striped bass in ponds at this time.
Approximately 50,000 striped bass will be held at the center for several months and reared up to .25 pounds each and then stocked into the Ashley River. More than 100,000 fingerling striped bass will be stocked into Lake Murray in June.
WMC has stocked over 520,000 spotted sea trout in Charleston waters last year, while developing a rapid response stock enhancement program to protect this fragile fishery from severe climate fluctuations and habitat degradation (Beaufort County experienced cold kill three and four years ago).
WMC biologists assist SC seafood growers. They provide information and training to state residents when requested. This work is important as the US now imports 91% of its seafood and seafood farming accounts for 47% of all seafood. The center's biologists assist state fish pond and coastal impoundment owners by addressing management needs including water quality, weed control and species management.
The mariculture center also serves SCDNR Law Enforcement officers by providing office space, evidence storage, and boat storage and assists with equipment repairs.
The center is also part of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Biologists provide aid and assistance to injured whales, dolphins, turtles and birds.
Deputy Law Enforcement Officer - center's manager - provides additional security for the adjacent Victoria Bluff Heritage Preserve and Marine Reserve. Center's personnel also assists with road and trail maintenance on both of these DNR properties.
WMC recently received a $300,000 research grant to monitor the effects of storm water on Beaufort County's sensitive saltwater marsh. Working with USCB and Beaufort County, they will develop baseline data to improve the county's storm water management plan.
WMC opens its doors to students for tours and lectures. More than 100 students have participated in programs in May alone. In addition, WMC biologists recently installed a private grant funded fish production system (hydroponics) at Whale Branch Middle School in Beaufort. Two Hilton Head High School students, who performed their science fair projects at the mariculture center, recently competed in the Intel International Science Fair program in Phoenix. One of the students finished third place out of 80 students competing in her category. The student won two scholarship awards and was selected by NOAA to work with researchers in one of their labs next summer. Biologist provided lectures and tours to more than 3,000 guests last year.
The center is providing internships for four SC college students this summer. They will be paid with donations made to the Waddell Fund. Three high school students will work at least one day a week at the center this summer.
Through contributions to the Hilton Head Reef Foundation and the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, Beaufort County citizens have funded over $150,000 of emergency repairs and equipment, research instruments, stocking tanks, tour programs, school education programs and summer interns. The Hilton Head/Bluffton Home Builders Association and Master Gardeners donated a $40,000 renovation of the Turnere House and its landscaping.
The Port Royal Sound embayment, from the ACE Basin to the Savannah River is the most pristine and biologically significant marine ecosystem on the East Coast. The Waddell Mariculture Center is the most important facility we citizens have to protect its health and enhance its role in our state's fishing, boating and tourism economy.