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Bluffton Water Quality Effort to be Featured at 18th International Conference on Shellfish Restoration in Charleston

Nov 16, 2016

Charleston, S.C. – A Bluffton, S.C. water quality improvement effort will be featured Saturday, November 19 during the 18th International Conference on Shellfish Restoration (ICSR’16) at the Hyatt Place Charleston Historic District in Charleston, S.C. The conference is organized by the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium and runs November 16-19. Researchers, resource managers, businesses, shellfish farmers and community restoration practitioners worldwide will exchange information necessary to help restore molluscan shellfish populations, enhance the health of coastal ecosystems and improve water quality for shellfish survival, growth and harvest.

The overall theme for ISCR’16 is “Celebrating and Inspiring Healthy Coastal Communities,” with case studies and presentations scheduled by individuals and groups from nearly 20 states and nine countries. Kim Jones, watershed management division manager for the town of Bluffton, is Saturday’s keynote speaker. She plans to discuss the May River Watershed Action Plan, which grew out of the first closure of a section of May River oyster beds in 2009.

The shellfish industry long has been a critical component of the economy and culture of Bluffton. The 2009 closure prompted community leaders to come up with the 126-page May River Watershed Action Plan, which recommends strategies ranging from better disposal of pet waste to more use of pervious surface that soaks up water rather than hard surfaces for driveways and sidewalks.

Jones said she plans to talk about the process of bringing the community together to create the plan, and the successes and challenges along the way. The May River shellfish beds have been re-opened and closed several times since the plan was created in 2011. The plan is now in the phase of accessing the effectiveness of steps taken to this point, Jones said.

The Bluffton effort is one of several featured at the conference. A growing number of community groups and private enterprises have taken the lead in habitat restoration, resulting in more abundant shellfish populations and healthier ecosystems and communities.

Other sessions will address challenges and opportunities related to volunteer engagement, climate change, coastal development, shellfish diseases, shoreline stabilization, and resource management, policy and regulation.