The primary goals of Coastal Carolina Riverwatch are:
- Elevate the voices from the coastal fishing community about specific water quality concerns that impact fisheries.
- Increase coastal ecology and water quality knowledge and educational opportunities for under-served coastal communities.
- Advocate for sustainable farmers and fisheries that support water quality improvements, while monitoring potential pollution sources and reporting results of studies that implicate polluters to the proper agencies.
- Facilitate the collaborative development of long-term solutions that prevent water quality pollutants including:
- Factory Farming and Industrial Agriculture Pollution
- Stormwater Pollution
- Industrial Pollution
- Plastics Pollution
- Waste Water Pollution
* All of these pollutants are specific, and in-order or priority water quality concerns of our commercial and recreational fishing communities.
We accomplish these goals through strong advocacy, outreach and equitable education, regular investigative and emergency watershed monitoring, supporting environmental policy and statewide agency work for the water, assessing and researching water quality concerns from the voices of the coast, and by promoting citizen stewardship.
Coastal Carolina Riverwatch’s focus for the coming year includes the following:
Expand the Water Quality for Fisheries Program (WQ4F) to provide services that have been both identified and prioritized by the Industry Working Group made up of both commercial and recreational fishermen. This will include a draft Study Bill supported by the collaborative work of our Industry Working Group. Additional proposed action items for 2022 are highlighted in our draft WQ4F Assessment document that will be published in early 2022.
We also want to mention that we are currently working on specific WQ4F actions that will be current in the coming year. Those include:
Targeted Emerging Contaminant Research in Fishing Communities
We are working to secure funding along with principal investigator Dr. Lee Ferguson. Dr. Ferguson is a Duke University Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and CCRW board member). Research in Ferguson laboratory is focused on development of methods for trace analysis of contaminants in the aquatic environment, in wastewater and drinking water.
A prioritized targeted research area has been identified in the Downeast area of Coastal North Carolina. We’d like to find out if contamination is happening so that we can work towards a collaborative solution that benefits the entire community environment.
Targeted Micro Plastic Pollution Research and working Collaboratively with Local Governments to reduce and remove debris before it enters the marine environment.
We are currently working on a collaborative statewide program, through Waterkeepers Carolina, studying microplastics in our waterways and implementing plastic debris collection and removal devices in pilot study locations and in partnership with local governments. We hope to expand this local government collaboration after this pilot program is complete.
In addition to this, we are also working collaboratively to properly fund plastic research that will identify the amount and types of plastic and potential leachate in targeted fish species.
These targeted water quality issues that we are focusing on are also highlighted in a WQ4F documentary film, to be released and available to use by the public in early 2022.
There will also be five short (commercial and social media use) videos released at the end of December targeting each of the top five water quality concerns priorities by coastal commercial and recreational fishermen.
Other focuses for 2022 are to:
Fund the Coastal Carolina Riverwatch’s Equity in the Environment Program that bridges the gap between coastal sciences, marine fisheries, and underserved communities in coastal North Carolina.
Expand the Pure Farms Pure Waters Program that provides services to communities impacted by factory farming and industrial agriculture in coastal North Carolina. These communities include our military and fishing communities here in coastal North Carolina.
Both factory farming and industrial agriculture had been identified by the commercial and recreational coastal fishing community to be the top water quality issue accounting to our recent survey, partnered with ECU as a part of the WQ4F program.
Another focus in 2022 is Coastal Carolina Riverwatch’s North Carolina Marine Debris Symposium (NCMDS). This event is based in NC, but has international interest and support. Our goal for 2022 is a Spring Plastic Pollution Policy Workshop co-presented by Duke Law and Policy, and the full Symposium in the Fall of 2022, with both in-person and virtual attendance available.
We use this opportunity to showcase marine debris prevention and removal efforts across the region, hear from best management practices from a global perspective, and conduct workshops with hands on waste auditing, policy development, and education programs with citizen science based curriculum.