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News & Notes – Winter 2013
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Lowcountry Living Shorelines: Restoring Carolina's Reefs
VOLUME 27, NUMBER 2, WINTER 2013            

Lowcountry Living Shorelines: Restoring Carolina's Reefs
By John H. Tibbetts                                                                       back to main story  

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Knauss fellows from S.C. schools selected

Two South Carolina graduate students were selected as Knauss fellows in the 2013 class of the prestigious John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellow-ship. Nominated by the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, the students were among 49 selected from a nationwide pool of more than 100 candidates.

During her Knauss fellow year, Leah Fisher, who completed an M.S. in marine science at the College of Charleston, serves as a coastal policy analyst in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Ocean Service (NOAA/NOS) Planning, Policy, and Analysis Division. She will provide assistance 
to a NOAA-wide Arctic Task Force, among other duties.

“I’m excited to bring my scientific background to Washington and see how the knowledge obtained through research can actually inform policy decisions,” Fisher says.

Elizabeth Fly, who completed a Ph.D. in biological sciences, serves as a climate and marine eco-systems policy fellow within the NOAA Climate Program Office. She will help coordinate and produce material to support the National Climate Assessment, which is a high-impact, interagency activity of the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

“This is such a critical time to relate scientific findings to policymakers and the general public in an effective, user-friendly manner,” Fly says. “The Knauss fellowship has given me the opportunity to be deeply involved in this effort. Following this fellowship, I hope to continue in helping make science more accessible to non-scientists for policymaking that can balance a variety of parties’ interests.”

To further the education of tomorrow’s leaders, the National Sea Grant Office sponsors the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Program, bringing a select group of graduate students to the nation’s capital, where they work in the federal government’s legislative and executive branches.

The students learn about federal policy regarding marine and Great Lakes natural resources and lend their scientific expertise to federal agencies and congressional staff offices.

Each of the nation’s 33 Sea Grant programs can nominate up to six students to the Knauss fellows program annually. Selections are then made competitively from among those nominations. Visit for more information about the Knauss fellowship.

What do coastal r­esidents want?

Residents of three rapidly changing communities in northern Charleston County share respect for the health of local waterways that transcends divisions of race or household wealth.

“We’re trying to get a holistic picture of what people are thinking about the coast and its waterways and what they want for the coast,” says Sea Grant researcher Annette
Watson, a geographer at the College of Charleston.

Watson and her colleagues are studying three different populations—commercial, subsistence, and recreational fishermen—in rural McClellanville, suburbanizing Awendaw, and urbanizing Mount Pleasant.

Additional growth is predicted to occur along this corridor of Interstate 17 known as the “Sewee to Santee” region, which is the focus of an ongoing planning effort.

This research will not focus on tensions that exist but instead will address similarities in social-ecological relationships for the purpose of planning, Watson says.

In-migrants are often considerably wealthier than their neighbors, driving up the cost of living and economically marginalizing longtime residents. In some coastal communities, commercial fishermen are in conflict with recreational or subsistence fishermen.

But Watson and her colleagues will use innovative interviewing techniques and quantitative analysis to help long-time residents and in-migrants identify special fishing places that they want to protect, and find commonalities for planning purposes.

The project aims to determine the senses of place experienced by life-long residents; spatially measure access to coastal resources historically used by life-long residents; determine the relationship between long-term residents’ economic practices and their environmental values; test whether different community identities can find commonalities in their values; and develop common indicators that community leaders can use to track changes through time.

Extension ­specialist joins Consortium

Julie E. Davis has joined the S.C. Sea Grant Extension Program as a living marine resources specialist. She is completing an M.S. in fisheries and aquaculture from Auburn University.

She will focus on issues associated with fisheries policy and management, sustainable aquaculture development, seafood business planning and marketing, working waterfronts, fisheries ecology, and fisheries/aquaculture gear and technology.

In Alabama, Davis previously worked on a National Sea Grant Aquaculture Extension project, helping to develop off-bottom oyster farming in the north central Gulf of Mexico. This form of oyster farming would supply the high-value, premium, half-shell market in addition to the shucked-meat market already served.

“South Carolina and Alabama share some of the same challenges,” Davis says, “and I am excited about working with growers to adapt some of the techniques we’ve used successfully in the Gulf to South Carolina waters.”

Improved septic ­systems aid water quality

The Charleston Soil and Water Conservation District and partners, based on information provided by the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium and S.C. Department of Health and Environ-mental Control, recently installed 62 replacement septic systems and repaired four systems in the Sewee to Santee priority watershed.

Sites for the repair and replacement of septic systems were focused in areas with underprivileged households, mainly in the towns of McClellanville and Awendaw, S.C. 

Eight homeowner septic education workshops were held, starting in July 2009 and ending in September 2012.

Other elements included implementation of best management practices (BMPs) on pastureland or hobby farms, pet waste control, marine sanitary waste measures, and an extensive education and outreach campaign targeting both home and watercraft owners.

Eliminating septic system backups in the household or sewage outbreaks in the yard reduced the amount of fecal coliform bacteria going into waterways, helping to improve water quality and contributing to the re-opening of 883 acres of shellfish harvesting beds near McClellanville. 

This project was funded by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Section 319 grant program for non-point source pollution management. To view the complete project report, visit the Coastal Growth Publications web page at

Coastal Heritage wins prestigious award

Coastal Heritage has received a Distinguished Award from the 2012-2013 Society for Technical Communication Carolina Chapter competition. The rigorous judging process was based on content and organization, copyediting, visual design, and creativity. The entry now moves on to the international competition.

Subscriptions to Coastal Heritage are available upon request by contacting Annette Dunmeyer at (843) 953-2078 or via e-mail at Current and past issues are available online at

Last updated: 4/3/2013 7:27:53 PM
News & Notes – Winter 2013


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