Last week in Newspapers across the Carolinas and Georgia:
COLUMBIA, S.C. - The Waddell Mariculture Center in Beaufort County "may be shuttered" if the governor's budget cuts are approved by the South Carolina General Assembly, says the director of the S.C. Marine Resources Division.
"It is serious and would have terrific impacts, no question."
We believe the future of recreational fishing and the quality of life for the people in our state is in our hands and we cannot fail. We cannot lose the ability to manage our fishery resources.
The center provides facilities and support to produce recreationally important marine finfish for life history research and stocking fish to develop tools to rebuild over-fished populations. More than 2.5 million red drum stocked per year; 80,000 cobia stocked in coastal waters and 210,000 striped bass released in Charleston.
The center provides maintenance for a commercial size greenhouse raceway system for marine shrimp research funded by the USDA. Research develops environmentally safe sustainable seafood research to offset shrimp imports in the future.
The Waddell Mariculture Center (WMC), located in Bluffton, South Carolina, on the banks of the Colleton River serves as an aquaculture research and development platform to identify potential marine species for commercial food production and to assist in rebuilding recreationally important wild fish stocks. The center serves as the southern most coastal region for Marine Mammal Stranding Network. WMC Staff responds to the needs of stranded or injured marine mammals, turtles and birds. WMC offers educational programs, summer internships for college students & research partnerships.
As our world population continues its boom and our predilection for a seafood diet keeps pace, we are going to continue the trend of depleting our oceans' resources. On a daily basis our fisheries managers have to deal with new threats to either a species or an ecosystem where thresholds of survival are being reached. Nowhere are those threats more real than our coastal marine areas especially as they have become the ultimate lifestyle aspiration for so many Americans. As this coastal boom continues we have seen the Chesapeake Bay collapse, weather events that have scattered our wastes and poisonous byproducts over vast areas, red tides that are sandwiching from the north and the south, and appetites for seafood that could not be satiated by harvesting an entire wild fishery.
At no time in our lives has it been more important that we protect and enhance those coastal environmental institutions that are our last line of defense; the SCDNR and their Waddell Mariculture Center. They have the staff, the attitude, the vision and the national reputation to save some of the last great ecosystems on the Atlantic Coast. They can provide the long term solutions for our insatiable seafood appetites and the demands of our equally booming and very profitable recreational fisheries. However, indiscriminant and fiscally unsound state budget cuts have pushed both of these great agencies to their survival threshold .The Chesapeake Bay nightmare taught us that it cost 10 times as much to fix an ecosystem than it does to protect it. Please join us in support of SCDNR and the Waddell Center.
Keep up the great work. Look what you've accomplished!
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