Characterization of the Ashepoo-Combahee-Edisto (ACE) Basin, South Carolina
Commercial fisheries are important to the economic and social fabric of the ACE Basin. In particular, Bennett's Point and Edisto Beach are the primary centers for shrimp and shellfish harvesting. Fishery products landed in the ACE Basin are consumed locally as well as transported to larger regional markets. In addition to the direct economic impacts of the fisheries, fishing communities also serve as focal points for residents not directly supported by the fisheries.
Blue crabs, shrimp, and oysters/clams are the three main fisheries in the ACE Basin. In addition, there are smaller fisheries for shad, sturgeon, horseshoe crabs, and flathead catfish. Revenue from commercial fisheries during 1996 was estimated to be almost 25 million dollars in South Carolina. The total commercial landings for Colleton County, which largely encompasses the ACE Basin, have an estimated value between $750,000 and $1,500,000 per year. Over 90% of this is from the shrimping industry. To date, there has been no accurate mechanism to evaluate the number of individuals active in the fishery industry of the ACE Basin.
The shrimping industry is the most important commercial fishery in the ACE Basin. Shrimping is of particular economic importance to a number of small coastal communities including Bennett's Point, Edisto Beach, and larger towns such as Beaufort. Not only important to those directly and indirectly involved in the fishery, the presence of the fishing community contributes to the local tourism-based economy. In addition to the commercial shrimp trawl fishery, there are a number of commercial companies raising shrimp in impoundments and ponds in South Carolina, with a few companies in the ACE Basin (Hopkins 1991). Aquaculture landings range from 8 to 19 percent of the total harvest.