Working waterfronts

I think most people are aware that commercial fishing is very important to our area. It supplies our restaurants and seafood markets with fresh local fish, shrimp and shellfish and defines us as the “Seafood Capital of South Carolina.”

But you may not be aware that one of the biggest threats to commercial fishing is the lack of working waterfronts. More and more of our waterfront property is being developed, squeezing out fishermen and seafood packing houses.

That’s why I attended a town meeting in McClellanville on April 17th to support a Charleston County Greenbelt grant application to purchase commercial docks in the town to preserve them with a conservation easement, which would restrict future uses to only those compatible with the seafood industry.

I believe preserving working waterfronts is important to our coastal economy and culture.

This week, the House was back in session after a week-long Easter break and fishery issues were on the Agricultural, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee’s agenda.

The committee passed reasonable size and bag limits for spadefish and tripletail to help sustain those fisheries.

The Senate passed their version of the state’s $9.3 billion budget last week. The House and Senate will meet over the next few weeks to negotiate the differences between the two budgets and come up with a final version.

I strongly support the ban on approval of offshore oil drilling infrastructure permits by the state or local governments that was added by the Senate to the budget bill.

I’m cautiously optimistic about the news this week that U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said his department is “indefinitely sidelining” plans for offshore drilling in the Atlantic.

On Wednesday at the State House I was privileged to meet with three young women who represent Georgetown County with distinction: Miss Georgetown County, Brooke Vu; Miss Five Rivers, Jada Samuel; and Miss Georgetown County Teen, Julia Herrin.

There are just six days left in the legislative session for this year.

As always, please let me know if I can be of any assistance.

Rep. Lee Hewitt

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