S.C. Sea Grant Consortium

S.C. Sea Grant Publications

South Carolina Commercial Fisheries Infrastructure Needs Assessment

The South Carolina Commercial Fisheries Infrastructure Needs Assessment was produced by the South Carolina Seafood Alliance, a professional association representing seafood industry stakeholders across multiple sectors. This project was funded by the US Department of Agriculture Local Food Promotion Program, and the Consortium supported the South Carolina Seafood Alliance in developing a questionnaire and engaging with industry stakeholders.

Through semi-structured interviews with dock owners and lessees across a range of coastal counties in South Carolina, this assessment identified the critical needs, threats, and impediments the commercial fishing industry faces. Overall, total infrastructure needs are estimated at $2.8 million to $5.3 million, where 80% of this cost is needed for docks, icehouses/freezers, and adjacent buildings, and the remaining 20% is needed for unloading equipment, packaging/processing equipment, and transportation for the product.

The need for infrastructure to support and sustain South Carolina’s commercial fishing industry amidst decades of decline is clear. The results of this project are intended to position the commercial fisheries sector in a way to capitalize on potential future funding opportunities. Importantly, the Needs Assessment may be used as support in attaining solutions and financial streams to reorganize and reinvigorate the industry in a rapidly changing market.

Results point to:

  1. The need for a collaborative approach across multiple seafood businesses, state and federal agencies, extension specialists, and community-based organizations to tackle the issue of declining water-adjacent infrastructure that can be safely and effectively utilized by commercial fishing operations.
  2. The need to address challenges associated with the lack of access to affordable water adjacent properties and developer preferences for competing uses.
  3. The need to effectively market locally produced seafood and its sustainability to enhance competitiveness against imports.
  4. The need to foster opportunities for the next generation of commercial fishers through training and other resources.
  5. The need to identify value-added revenue streams for seafood businesses.