Water Quality For Fisheries: Building Stakeholder and Public Support for Improved Water Quality in North Carolina

Coastal Carolina Riverwatch (CCRW) is pleased to launch the Water Quality for Fisheries (WQ4F) Program, with assistance from the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission and the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries.

“In response to water quality concerns voiced by NC fishing communities, CCRW’s board and staff worked with local fisheries contacts to design this project. The project is focused on building stakeholder and public support for water quality efforts in North Carolina.  Our goal is to improve water quality for fisheries, the waters and the people of North Carolina.”   – Lisa Rider, Executive Director.

“This important project will help us determine the effects of water quality on our valuable NC fisheries.  We will be reaching out to all of those involved in fisheries to understand their perspectives and concerns. Our primary goal is to ensure that our coastal waters will feed our children and grandchildren healthy seafood for generations to come.” – Rick Kearney, CCRW Board President

The project addresses water quality improvement through several collaborative objectives that will be developed by the fisheries communities. 

Research-based survey work will be conducted to identify fisheries community priorities among water quality concerns. 

A large component of this project is to establish an inclusive Industry Working Group made-up of stakeholders including commercial, recreational, for-hire, and subsistence fishermen. A series of facilitated meetings will take place to gain insight on gaps in water quality efforts and develop collaborative outreach strategies benefiting local sustainable fisheries. 

Based on survey results, water quality research, and industry feedback, a series of short films and commercials will be developed to increase public understanding of water quality issues affecting NC fisheries. In doing so, the Water Quality for Fisheries project will cultivate a more informed coastal community motivated to protect clean water.

“We are excited to be embarking on this program with the commercial, recreational, for-hire, and subsistence communities.  NC’s fisheries are so important to our local economy and water quality improvements are of a high priority for those that work on the water.  To be productive today, and in the future, we have to maintain the highest level of water quality. This program will gain insight from the very people who utilize our waters as a way of living.” – Larry Baldwin, Crystal Coast Waterkeeper 

This project is made possible through Commercial License fees and approved for funding by the Marine Fisheries Commission. The Commission prioritized funding water quality improvement projects during the development of the Division of Marine Fisheries request-for-proposal process in 2020. 

Several NC fishing organizations will act as partners and the stakeholder list is continuing to grow as the Industry Working Group is developed. The project will run for the course of one year, after which Coastal Carolina Riverwatch will continue to collaborate with these fisheries stakeholders and water quality advocates to further protect clean water for NC fisheries. 

For more information, or to join the fishing industry stakeholder group, contact Larry Baldwin, Crystal Coast Waterkeeper at LarryB@coastalcarolinariverwatch.org 

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