COLUMBIA — In the fall of 2008 the Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina announced that the recreational angling advocacy group was developing an angler-driven, public/private sector collaboration, dedicated marine habitat program to supplement the marine conservation work the group had been doing in South Carolina for nearly 25 years.
CCA SC’s Topwater Action Campaign (TWA) was officially launched in the spring of 2009 and has been dedicated exclusively to the creation and restoration of marine habitat in areas that can be accessed and enjoyed by recreational anglers.
Now entering its sixth year of operation, TWA’s list of habitat projects is providing real substance to the program’s mantra of “habitat today equals fish for tomorrow.”
Working initially with state agencies, such as the S.C Department of Natural Resources, the program began to work on oyster shell recycling and restoration and extended the collaboration with academic institutions such as Coastal Carolina University. While partnerships with the public sector continue to strengthen, particularly with the DNR S.C.O.R.E. program, partnerships with the private sector are fueling the program for future growth.
In the fall of 2013, The Guy Harvey Foundation along with the American Fishing Tackle Company (AFTCO) provided a $75,000 contribution to the program; the third donation the two groups have made and the largest to date for TWA. These funds will not only provide for additional oyster recycling and reef efforts but also provide support for the program’s nearshore artificial reef goals along the Palmetto State’s coast.
Since TWA’s creation, the allocation of tools and resources has been extensive. Projects have varied from water quality monitoring in North Myrtle Beach to nearshore artificial reefs off McClellanville. Oyster shell recycling remains a focus and has gone up more than 30 percent since the program began, with plans to expand that capability through oyster shell recycling drop-off sites in non-coastal counties of the state.
Additionally the program has provided an invaluable “oyster fleet” support system consisting of dump trailers, recycling bins, reef building supplies, and oyster barges for use on more than 62 volunteer projects at 26 different reef sites along the entire South Carolina coast since the summer of 2009.
In recognition of the program’s success, the CCA National organization selected the Topwater Action Campaign from its field of 18 state chapters as its entry into the coveted Field and Stream Hero’s of Conservation Award process in 2011.