McClellanville working to preserve working waterfront

MCCLELLANVILLE, SC (WCSC) - McClellanville is a small town working towards a big catch.

The town is trying to protect one of last working waterfronts in the Lowcountry.

Fishing and shrimping remain a major source of income for many residents. However, the future of the local docks is uncertain. The docks sit along Jeremy Creek, ushering in boats from sun up to sun down.

The town has been partnering with the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium, Carolina Common Enterprise, and the East Cooper Land Trust, on developing a plan to save the docks.

On Wednesday, those agencies held a town meeting to get public input on what residents want to see for the future of the waterfront.

Part of the plan includes the securing approximately $1.5 million dollars through a grant from the Charleston County Greenbelt fund to save one of the few local commercial fishing docks that are left in the Lowcountry.

“The boats get stacked up four and five boats wide into the creek," said Catherine Main, executive director of the East Cooper Land Trust. “Boats even come in from North Carolina and other places and it gives them a place to stop over and offload their catch here, then go out and catch more seafood. So it’s not only for the local boats it’s also for people who need a place to stop over."

Rutledge Leland III has been the mayor of McClellanville for more than 40 years and he also owns Carolina Seafood. Eventually, he wants to retire so he is fighting to ensure that the fishing career is around for generations to come.

“Well it is our industry and we are a fishing village. Everybody’s just been a part of it for years," Leland said. "Even those that don’t directly work in it.”

People who live in McClellanville believe that if their seafood industry were to die off, the impacts would be felt throughout the Lowcountry and the state.

“For Charleston County, 70 percent of the shrimp that comes into Charleston County comes in through Carolina Seafood. For the entire state its about 35% of the shrimp that comes from Carolina Seafood. So for anyone who loves local seafood its important that we protect this land,” said Main.

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