May 3, 2013
SC Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series donates $50,000 to Memorial Reef Project
On April 25th the Advisory Board of Directors for the SC Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series voted unanimously to donate $50,000 towards the deployment and construction of the SC Memorial/Charleston Deep Reef Project. Over its 25 year history, the Series has donated over $300,000 to various conservation and research projects in memory of Wallace F. Pate, an offshore fishing pioneer.
The proposed reef will be the first of its kind on the Atlantic coast, and will be placed in 350 feet of water about 52 miles southeast of Charleston in an area that was permitted in 2005 by the US Army Corps of Engineers. In 2007, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council designated the site as a Type II Marine Protected Area, where bottom fishing is prohibited but trolling is allowed. There is currently no hard bottom in the area. Any biological benefits to Warsaw and Snowy grouper or other deep water bottom and pelagic species will accrue only after artificial reef material is added to improve habitat and attract fish. Study of this site in the long-term may provide important biological information about these species and the effectiveness of deep water artificial reefs.
Earlier this spring, the Memorial Reef Group was able to negotiate an agreement with Stevens Towing to acquire and deploy two, 270 feet long and 70 feet wide “clean” barges, a large crane, and other high relief materials which will result in a structure that will provide the necessary vertical structures to attract fish. Once placed on site, the structures will accomplish the objective of providing essential fish habitat in an area that will be protected from bottom fishing but will be open to trolling for billfish, dolphin, wahoo, tuna and other pelagic species. The strategic location of the proposed reef, near the 380 and 226 fishing holes, will guarantee that it will be utilized extensively by those fishing off our coast.
“This donation is the largest single contribution that the Series has made to date, and is exactly the type of project Governor Carroll Campbell envisioned supporting when he established the Series back in 1988,” said Advisory Board Chairman Ed Holder of Greenville. Funds for the Series are raised through private donations and sponsorships, which are held in trust by the Harry Hampton Memorial Wildlife Fund.
In 2009, after the untimely passing of several well respected offshore anglers, a group of their peers banded together as the SC Memorial Reef, Inc. with the goal of bringing the deep water reef to fruition. This concept was wholeheartedly endorsed by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR). In the intervening years, many fundraisers have taken place to help achieve the goal.
With this major donation from the SC Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series, the project is one step closer to its fund raising goal, but is still in need of community support for final assembly and deployment. Interested parties are encouraged to visit their Facebook page and donate to this worthy conservation project. Time is of the essence and this is your opportunity to ensure that the goal envisioned so long ago will be achieved by the proposed deployment date of August 2013.
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