For the first twenty-five years of my career with the DNR, I worked on the campus of the Marine Center in Charleston. Although I worked in a different division from the research staff assigned there, I thought I had a fair understanding of the work being done. I spent many hours in conversation with my fellow employees, had close friends in the division, and watched those fish swimming around in the tanks at the back of the lab. Even just six months ago, I would have said that I was familiar with much of the work being done there in the lab and in the field. However, after spending a recent two-day visit with staff at the Marine Center getting "educated" about all that they do, I realized that for all these years, I was mistaken. I simply had no idea of the true magnitude of the work being undertaken by our Marine Resources Division and its importance to our state. My knowledge was skimpy at best. The scope of the effort put forth by the biologists and support staff in the division as it relates to the management of our saltwater species, on both the state and national level, is truly amazing. Their dedication and passion show once again how DNR employees continue to set the bar when it concerns the management of our state's natural resources.
In this issue of SCW, you will read an article detailing the success of nearly four decades of intensive red drum (spot-tailed bass) management led by staff in our Marine Resources Division. It’s a great example of a species once in decline that has been brought back from the brink through the efforts of talented and dedicated researchers working together with sportsmen and other stakeholders. Their efforts have ensured that future generations will be able to experience the thrill of catching a red drum.
But as I learned on my recent visit, the red drum is only one of many such success stories. There is a LOT going on in our Marine Resources Division, much of which is detailed in the sidebar stories accompanying the red drum article. The artificial reef program, DNA work, community involvement through SCORE, stocking efforts and our commercial shellfish program — all of these are great examples of the work being carried out every day at the Marine Center on James Island and the Waddell Center in Bluffton. The staff of the division strives daily to find that delicate balance in their management of species prized both by the recreational user for his enjoyment and also by the commercial user for his livelihood that will secure the long-term future of these resources for both groups. Achieving that balance does not come without many man-hours of hard work, and it's a mission not taken lightly by these dedicated employees.
The result of this hard work is a sustainable resource for future generations of South Carolinians. Job well done!
— Alvin Taylor, Director
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources