Tag Archives: South Carolina

$3 million Shem Creek dock renovations aim to boost shrimping, fishing fleet

In a show of support for the longstanding shrimping industry, the Shem Creek docks are undergoing major renovations. The $3 million repair and rebuild of the dock, pier and processing building on Haddrell Street began June 11. Construction for the project was awarded to Cape Romain Contractors in April. Crews will remove and rebuild the existing boardwalk and pier to create a wider walking clearance for shrimpers and improve accessibility for workers and visitors. The shrimp docks are not the same as the boardwalk at Shem Creek Park and are tucked away from the restaurants and nightlife that surround the creek. Crews will also repair the shrimp processing section of the building where Tarvin Seafood operates. The back portion of the building has been condemned for years and is unsafe, said Cindy Tarvin, owner of the family-operated business. Photos, more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 09:13

SC shrimp season fully opened but fewer local shrimpers are on the waters.

Two words and one action can help South Carolina’s storied and struggling shrimping industry: Eat local. For some, it’s a culinary click-phrase that goes unpracticed. For others, it’s a habitual routine at farmers markets, grocery stores and restaurants. But for Cameron Reaves, who captains a shrimp boat with Beaufort-based Sea Eagle Market, his family’s livelihood depends on people eating locally. “The shrimp market is kind of a mess right now,” Reaves said. “It’s hard for a lot of shrimpers to make it.” Fuel prices – at over $3 dollars a gallon – are slightly lower than last year, but they are still high for what the boats burn through in a day. Reaves’ 70-foot boat that can hold up to 30,000 pounds of shrimp averages 200 gallons daily. more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 08:12

When a massive chemical plant came knocking, it was Hilton Head’s Black fishermen who answered

On a spring day in 1970, a small group of fishermen set sail to take on a giant. Shrimpers with the Hilton Head Fishing Cooperative boarded a 43-foot fishing trawler and headed for Washington, D.C., with protest signs, a petition and a mission to halt the building of a multimillion-dollar industrial plant on the banks of the Colleton River. What happened next is a story of perseverance through unlikely odds: A group of Black fishermen from a backwater sea island faced off against a state-sponsored $200 million chemical-processing plant — and won. It’s a story still told today. Photos,  more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 09:45

Man Of Fortune: Beloved Fisherman to Receive Memorial Statue at Shem Creek

When dawn breaks on Shem Creek, there will soon be a glimmer on the water like never before. Atop the boardwalk that connects both sides of the creek will stand a bronze, life-size statue of a man who is now remembered as a Lowcountry legend. His name is Captain Wayne Magwood and soon his legacy will forever be enshrined as a testament to the role he played in preserving the area’s rich maritime history. Magwood’s life, career and family lineage have revolved around Shem Creek for the past century. In 1930, his father’s cousin, Captain William Magwood, was the first fisherman to bring ocean shrimp into Mount Pleasant and laid the foundation for the commercial industry to be built at Shem Creek. Photos, more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 08:55

A call for the price of shrimp to rise as St. Helena Island’s boats head to sea

The future is uncertain for shrimpers in coastal South Carolina, but you wouldn’t know that from the bright, buoyant crowd that gathered Saturday at the Gay Fish Company. Attendees rang in the start of the 2024 season with cowbells and noisemakers, sending off a fleet of shrimp trawlers into the Harbour River as their nets waved like sails in the gentle morning breeze. Owned by a family of veterans spanning three generations, the Gay Fish Company on St. Helena Island held its inaugural “Blessing of the Fleet” Saturday morning. Typically involving a local pastor praying over captains for a safe and bountiful season, the practice has been a staple in fishing communities for centuries. But as fisheries up and down the coast grapple with industry shakeups from overseas, the ceremony takes on a new sort of significance. Photos, Video, more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 08:29

Mount Pleasant’s annual ‘Blessing of the Fleet’ honors local shrimp and fishing industry

An annual event that pays tribute to the Lowcountry’s shrimping and fishing industry returns this weekend to Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park. Blessing of the Fleet and Seafood Festival serves as a kickoff to coastal shrimping season, which typically begins in early June. It also serves as a reminder to eat and buy locally caught shrimp to support Charleston’s seafood industry. It happens Sunday, April 28 from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Attendees can enjoy a boat parade, live music, craft show and plenty of free activities with the Ravenel Bridge and Charleston Harbor as a backdrop, organizers say. more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 06:34

At start of season, shrimpers are ‘cautiously optimistic’ despite market concerns

Fresh shrimp soon will be hitting the docks as the first stage of shrimp season gets underway the morning of April 19. This stage is limited to certain areas until the S.C. Department of Natural Resources can confirm the majority of female white shrimp have reproduced. “We want them to be able to spawn before harvest, because the current spawn will become our fall shrimp crop,” DNR spokesperson Erin Weeks said. This approach is essential to ensuring the industry remains sustainable, said Bryan Jones, South Carolina state co-director of the U.S. Shrimpers Coalition and a first-generation shrimper based in McClellanville. Photos, more, >>CLICK TO READ<< 12:28

Gay Fish Company to hold Blessing of the Fleet ceremony, public welcome

Since 1948, the Gay Fish Company on St. Helena Island has been fishing, shrimping, processing, and selling local seafood to thousands of customers from all over the country, and the world. After 76 years in business, you would be hard pressed to find many other families in the Lowcountry who are more synonymous with the shrimping and fishing industry. To do something special for the commercial fishermen that are docked there, and to raise awareness for the industry to the public, the family-owned seafood company is hosting its first ever Blessing of the Fleet Ceremony on April 27th, and the public is welcome to attend. more, >>click to read<< 06:22

Mount Pleasant invests in improved safety, functionality of shrimp boat docks

Much needed upgrades are coming to an important part of Mount Pleasant’s legacy. Town leaders are allocating money to renovate its shrimp boat docks in preparation for a busy shrimping season. “The more boats, the better the dock needs to be,” Rocky Magwood, President of SC Shrimpers Association said. The process of bringing shrimp from the deck to the table is a vision that’s coming to life as the Town of Mount Pleasant’s budget for shrimp boat docks will allocate funding for an updated look and safety upgrades. Magwood says that the docks are wearing out and it’s necessary for a refresh.  Video, more, >>click to read<< 13:01

Shrimping: an endangered tradition

The salty ocean air, the smell of pluff mud, seafood restaurants line the streets, yet shrimp boats sit docked at the harbor. This is the scene pictured in the future by local shrimper and president of South Carolina’s Shrimpers Association, Rocky Magwood, as a result of imported shrimp. Shrimping has long been a tradition and staple of the local Charleston industry, with generations of shrimpers selling their product locally and beyond. A proud heritage and position for many shrimpers. However, as a result of increasingly high levels of imported shrimp, local shrimping jobs are at risk, according to Rocky Magwood. “The p rice of shrimp is terrible,” Magwood said. “Most shrimpers are broke right now.” photos, more, >>click to read<< 06:32

Last haul? As Georgetown eyes redevelopment, shrimpers brace for end of working waterfront

Timmy Jordan has spent most of his 49 years on the water. No wife. No kids. Just days and nights of dragging coastal waterway bottoms for shrimp, hoping for a good haul. But over the last few months, he has grappled with the stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining and depression. He’s been preparing to moor his trawler alongside sailboats scattered in the Sampit River because he and this city’s other five shrimp boat owners were told the dock at the end of Cannon Street will close this month. The target date for the closure has been fluid since last year as the Tarbox family worked through selling Independent Seafood, the former wholesale market on the dock that originally opened in 1939. The shrimpers have tried to find open dock space from the North Carolina line toward Georgia but have been told no one has room. For them, an anchor is the only option. “This is my life ending,” Jordan said aboard his Miss Lue. “This is death for us that’s been in the business for so many years. We’re dying. It’s dying, and we’re dying with it.” 63 photos, more, >>click to read<< 11:55

Do You Know Your Lowcountry? The Mosquito Fleet

For more than two centuries before refrigeration, these Black fishermen braved the winds, waves and weather to supply Charlestonians daily with fresh fish and seafood, a mainstay of local diets. The fleet’s work was hard and dangerous, requiring perseverance in the face of all kinds of weather, as memorialized in America’s first native opera, “Porgy and Bess.” So critical was their role, Revolutionary War Gen. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney donated a parcel of his waterfront property at the east end of Market Street to serve as their wharf. Believing there was safety in numbers, the boats departed, fished and returned together. Though undocumented, folklore credits one of Pinckney’s daughters with giving the fleet its nickname, as she noted one morning that the boats looked like a swarm of mosquitos coming over the horizon. photos, more, >>click to read<< 08:12

Catch of the Night

The American eel’s lifestyle is as elusive as it gets. No one has seen one mate in the Sargasso Sea, the eel’s birthplace. However, we know that after hatching, eels begin their journey to land by following the Antilles Current and Gulf Stream toward the mouths of North American rivers. Elvers (juvenile specimens also known as glass eels) then venture inland, mature, and later return to the ocean to mate, with the entire process ranging from a few months to a few years in duration. The unfortunate truth is that eel populations worldwide are rapidly declining. They have faced overfishing since the 1970s, resulting in poaching regulations in most of the world. Today, just two US states award eel fishing licenses: South Carolina and Maine. Because South Carolina only allows traps for fully grown eels, Maine has become the heart of the elver issue. more, >>click to read<< By Phil Avilov10:31

A unique partnership connects Lowcountry fishermen with people who don’t have enough to eat

Daniel LaRoche watches as his crew, who’s just returned from nearly two weeks at sea, hoists dozens of giant swordfish from the belly of a boat. Some are real whoppers, weighing more than 200 lbs. LaRoche owns Cherry Point Seafood on Wadmalaw Island, just south of Charleston, selling fresh fish and shrimp from his dock. But making a living, he says, has never been harder. He wrestles daily with the rising costs of fuel, boat repairs and lures. LaRoche says he must sell even more shrimp to compete with imports as he struggles to keep up. Now, a new program promises help, by providing monthly pre-paid orders for 160 pounds of his shrimp and swordfish. So, who’s picking up the tab? The South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston. photos, more, >>click to read<< 09:12

VIDEO RELEASE: Coast Guard rescues 2 after vessel sinks 34 miles offshore Charleston

A Coast Guard Air Station Savannah helicopter crew rescued two men, Tuesday, after their 30-foot fishing vessel capsized 34 miles offshore of Charleston. Coast Guard Sector Charleston command center watchstanders received a mayday call at 10:30 p.m., via VHF-FM channel 16 from a crew member aboard the fishing vessel stating their vessel was sinking. Watchstanders directed the launch of a Coast Guard Station Charleston boat crew and an Air Station Savannah helicopter crew to assist.  Utilizing direction finding technology to triangulate the last known position, watchstanders were able to identify the vessel’s approximate location. Once on scene at the vessel’s last known position, the helicopter crew immediately located a life raft with two people aboard. Video, more, >>click to read<< 19:30

‘A perfect storm’: Beaufort, Bluffton urge Gov. McMaster to take action on shrimp dumping

The city of Beaufort and the Town of Bluffton recently became the third and fourth coastal municipalities to call for the declaration of an economic disaster due to the dumping of imported shrimp into local markets. The actions speak to a statewide concern. Fishermen warn that limited resources and an inundated market have created a “perfect storm” that without intervention could tear apart South Carolina’s shrimping industry.  On Dec. 12, Beaufort and Bluffton joined Mount Pleasant and McClellanville in urging Gov. Henry McMaster to declare an economic disaster due to the dumping of imported shrimp. Van Willis, Port Royal town manager, said officials there are planning to take a similar action in January. photos, more, >>click to read<< 06:29

Beaufort leaders ask Gov. McMaster to declare economic disaster to help shrimping industry

This all comes after local shrimper Craig Reaves sent this letter to city council explaining how shrimp dumping threatens his livelihood, and that of many others. In his letter to council, Reaves says that ‘all commercial fishing families have been decimated.’ He lists multiple reasons for said decimation but says that import dumping is the lead cause. For context, shrimp dumping is when farmed shrimp from other countries is sold to U.S. retailers and restaurants for below the market price that local shrimpers adhere to. Beaufort officials recognize the issue. “You can’t have locally owned operated seafood companies if the market price is going to be debased by this amount of flooded shrimp that’s coming in,” said Beaufort’s Acting Mayor Michael McFee. Video, more, >>click to read<< 08:40

Editorial: South Carolina’s shrimpers are struggling; here’s 1 way to help

Those living in the Charleston area likely are well-familiar with the fact that our local shrimping industry has long been bruised by competition from imported shrimp, but the problem seems to have become more urgent than ever. Fortunately, there are steps we all can take to help out. As S.C. Shrimpers Association vice president Bryan Jones wrote in his recent letter to the editor, our state’s shrimping fleet has reached a critical juncture, threatening the livelihoods of thousands of families and a cherished way of life along our coast. That’s why our state’s association is joining with similar groups in other coastal states to press their case on both the state and federal levels, seeking an economic disaster declaration that would lead to short-term relief, such as low-interest loans and tax breaks. >>click to read<< 11:28

The Fleet fights back: Fishermen unite to curb shrimp dumping

Mount Pleasant’s Economic Development Committee met on Nov. 6 and voted in favor of the proposed economic disaster declaration from the South Carolina Shrimper’s Association and Southern Shrimp Alliance that asserts the Mount Pleasant shrimping fleet can’t sustain itself due to the harmful impacts of shrimp dumping, or the flooding of the market with imported, non-domestic shrimp. Mount Pleasant is the second municipality in South Carolina to declare a state of economic disaster for the domestic shrimping industry. Bryan Jones, vice president of the South Carolina Shrimper’s Association, said the declaration is more than symbolic — it’s one crucial part of a fight that is bringing fishermen from across the Southern United States together to defend their businesses, livelihoods and the shrimping industry as a whole. >>click to read<< 12:40

Save US shrimping industry. Buy domestic wild-caught shrimp.

For decades, South Carolina’s shrimpers have faced challenges, but the imported shrimp crisis has reached a critical juncture. The influx of foreign shrimp, often at artificially low prices, is decimating our domestic shrimping industry, putting the livelihoods of thousands of South Carolina families at risk. The situation has changed dramatically in recent years. The rising tide of imported shrimp far outpaces shrimp consumption in the United States because of subsidized foreign production and lax trade enforcement. American shrimpers aren’t competing on a level playing field. We face an inflection point. If we do not take decisive action, the domestic shrimping industry will collapse, with devastating consequences for our coastal communities and the heritage of shrimping in South Carolina. >>click to read<< 09:06

Wild-Caught Shrimp: South Carolina’s Long History

There’s something positively serene about watching shrimp boats trawling our coastal waters. Shrimping has been an important part of our culture in Beaufort and all of South Carolina since long before anyone can remember. In fact it’s been a labor of love for fishermen since before the Civil War and is still alive and kicking today with a thriving market served by dedicated commercial fishermen in the Palmetto State. Shrimp are America’s most valuable and most popular seafood, according to the NOAA Fisheries, and SCDNR tells us that South Carolina is home to three species of shrimp: brown shrimp, white shrimp, and pink shrimp. Brown and white shrimp are more common than pink shrimp, but all three taste the same. >>click to read<< 20:47

Lowcountry shrimpers say area restaurants buying shrimp from other countries is putting a strain on the industry

Lowcountry shrimpers are concerned that they are going to be priced out by imported shrimp. But there’s one local organization working to promote eating locally. The South Carolina Shrimper’s Association has multiple goals such as advocating for policies that support the shrimping industry, educating the public about the industry, and promoting sustainable shrimping. One of the biggest problems Lowcountry shrimpers are facing right now is local restaurants importing the shrimp. They say some restaurants import shrimp from other countries at extremely low prices that local shrimpers just can’t afford to beat – and it’s impacting their livelihood. Video, “It’s been happening for a long time now, but it’s gotten to where it’s getting out of hand,” said local shrimper Rocky Magwood.  >>click to read<< 13:03

S.C. Shrimpers Association asks public’s help in fighting imported shrimp crisis

The South Carolina Shrimpers Association has announced its new leadership team for the 2023-2025 term. This comes after an emergency meeting was called to address the imported shrimp crisis and elect leaders to navigate the challenges faced by local shrimpers. The newly elected leadership team will shoulder the responsibility of representing the interests of South Carolina shrimpers at both state and federal levels. Their primary focus is on promoting the sustainability of the shrimping industry in the region, particularly in the face of the imported shrimp crisis. Video, >>click to read<< 09:21

Beaufort’s shrimping industry on the brink. Local boats sit while imported catch floods market

Thursday at Village Creek on St. Helena Island was another picture postcard-worthy morning with an American flag lilting in a slight southeast breeze near the shrimper Gracie Bell — idly tied to the dock. At Sea Eagle Market, a catch of shrimp swept up in the nets of trawlers in recent days are being processed by small group of dockside workers. They clean the valuable seafood crop harvested from waters as far away as North Carolina to the northeast coast of Florida before being sold locally and up and down the Palmetto State’s coast. After this recent harvest was completed, the boats returned, as they always do — to Village Creek, home base for shrimping on Fripp and Hunting Islands in Beaufort County and beyond. Against this serene backdrop, a storm is brewing that threatens destruction. It is not the threat of foul weather, these shrimpers have seen generations of bad weather days. The storm brewing is economic for the community of shrimpers and related businesses. >click to read< 10:10

Shrimp Alliance request fisheries disaster declaration

There’s no other way to put it if you ask Aaron Wallace. Despite a decent catch by the eight shrimp boats that supply Anchored Shrimp Co. in Brunswick, the prices fishermen are getting for their hauls aren’t what they should be. “It’s been one of our toughest years,” Wallace said. He and his father, John Wallace, own Anchored Shrimp and operate the Gale Force, one of the boats that serve the company’s retail and wholesale business. The Southern Shrimp Alliance, for which John Wallace serves as a member of the board of directors, is calling the flood of imported shrimp a crisis. The alliance asked the governors of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas in a letter on Aug. 25 to collectively request a fisheries disaster determination by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce for the U.S. shrimp fishery. >>click to read<< 11:06

A family tradition: The life of a Lowcountry shrimper

At 4:30 a.m., most people are still asleep, or maybe they’re just starting to roll out of bed. Not Rocky Magwood. Shrimpers like Captain Magwood and his crew are already a half-mile off the Charleston shoreline by that time, hard at work netting dozens of crustaceans to be used in some of the Lowcountry’s most iconic culinary dishes. On Tuesday, Captain Magwood set up in a spot his family has been shrimping for more than a century. It’s a trade he was forced to learn at a young age. When he was 12, his father passed away, leaving him to balance going to school and maintaining the family shrimping business. Trooper Bob will be documenting his experience on his social media pages throughout the day. Photos, >>click to read<< 14:58

Port Royal begins rebuilding 30-year-old dock. Move shows renewed commitment to shrimping

O’Quinn Marine Construction, hired by the town for $130,000, is now tearing down the Battery Creek landmark, piling by piling and plank by plank. But the scuttling of dock isn’t the end but rather a new beginning for shrimping and fishing and seafood processing, which have deep roots in northern Beaufort County. “It’s a first of several steps to reestablish fishing and shrimping as a iconic industry in Port Royal,” Van Willis, the town’s manager, said of the dock removal. A new dock and processing facility for fisherman and shrimpers are now being planned to replace the old facilities that had been in place since 1989. Over the past two years, the State Legislature has allocated the town $2 million for the work. Video, >click to read< 08:57

Coast Guard, good Samaritans assist 4 aboard shrimping vessel taking on water near St. Simons Island

The Coast Guard and good Samaritans assisted four people Tuesday after their shrimping vessel began taking on water near St. Simons Island, Georgia. Coast Guard Sector Charleston watchstanders received a notification at 10:33 p.m, via VHF-FM channel 16 marine radio, from the Joann B, a 75-foot shrimping vessel, stating their vessel was taking on water 4 miles east of St. Simons Island. The boat crew and air crew arrived on scene and began rendering assistance with three dewatering pumps. Good Samaritans from the fishing vessel Miss Vicky and commercial salvage also assisted with dewatering efforts. Photos, video. >click to read< 16:37

80-year-old shrimper still selling catch to St. Helena’s Gay Fish Co. ‘Kids won’t do this’

With muscly tan forearms that belie his age, Jim Buchanan hoists a 60-pound basket of white shrimp fat with roe onto the dock at Gay Fish Co. on St. Helena Island. “It’s hard work and, if you don’t like it, good God, it would be absolute misery,” Buchanan says. Buchanan, who is 80, won’t retire, he says with a smile, “Until somebody finds me on the back deck.” He enjoys being on the ocean and the hard work. Buchanan is one of five captains who own boats that dock and sell their catches at one of the surviving docks — Gay Fish Co., a St. Helena Island landmark that turns 75 this year, making it one of the oldest shrimping businesses in Beaufort County. Video, Photos, >click to read< 07:57

Beaufort County shrimpers netting big white shrimp as season opens. ‘Thankful everyday’

Craig Reaves loves his office: The southern coastal waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The owner of Beaufort-based Sea Eagle Market was among 20 shrimp boat captains who were at work Thursday, plying the waters near Pritchards Inlet near Fripp Island. It was opening day of the commercial shrimp trawling season, which is a big deal in a state where shrimp is the favorite Seafood and cities name festivals in honor of the delicious crustaceans. Nets dragged the bottom of the ocean catching big early-season white roe-shrimp. When the fishing day is done, this variety will usually fetch higher prices.  “We serve a mighty God so we’re thankful everyday we get to come to work every day in the ocean,” Reaves said. “Beautiful.” >click to read< 07:55