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Ocean Economy

What is the Ocean Economy?

South Carolina’s ocean economy is made up of the various business sectors that depend on coastal and ocean natural resources, such as fisheries, aquaculture, coastal tourism, and shipping. The health of South Carolina’s natural resources is important for growing our ocean economy in a sustainable way so that we can move toward a Blue Economy, a concept defined as when economic activity is in balance with the long-term capacity of ocean ecosystems to support this activity and remain resilient and healthy.

In 2017, South Carolina’s ocean economy employed 83,231 people and contributed $4.78 billion to state gross domestic product (GDP), representing 3.5% of statewide employment and 2.1% of statewide GDP. The ocean economy is even more important in the eight coastal counties of South Carolina, representing 12.2% of all employment and 7.6% of GDP in the coastal counties.

The S.C. Sea Grant Consortium tracks ocean economy trends by collecting data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the U.S. Census Bureau, South Carolina state agencies, and other relevant sources.

Ocean Economy Reports

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Assessing South Carolina’s Ocean Economy (2020)

This report provides an overview of South Carolina’s ocean economy based on available data; expands upon information provided by NOAA to examine other market and non-market economic benefits derived from coastal and ocean resources; identifies ocean economy sectors for potential future growth; and discusses how natural resource health provides a foundation for economic activities along South Carolina’s coast.

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South Carolina’s Ocean Economy Infographic

An infographic based on the 2020 publication Assessing South Carolina’s Ocean Economy.