DHEC works throughout the year to support healthy people living in healthy communities.
This includes teaming up with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for that agency’s S.C. Oyster Recycling and Enhancement (SCORE) program during Trident United Way’s Day of Caring. SCORE collects oyster shells from 30 sites and then uses these oyster shells to create new oyster beds. In this way, DHEC and DNR work together to restore and enhance South Carolina’s coastal resources.
“This opportunity brings the community together from Berkeley, Dorchester, and Charleston counties to make a beneficial impact to our surrounding environment,” said Sean Briggs, Manager of DHEC’s Compliance and Enforcement Section of Ocean and Costal Resources Management. “By bagging these oyster shells and then later planting them into the environment, we’re contributing directly to the restoration of that environment.”
With an estimated over 300,000 bushels of shells consumed within South Carolina each year, Michael Hodges with DNR emphasized SCORE as a way of promoting conservation of the environment.
“The purpose of the program is to engage the public hands on restoration and foster environmental stewardship,” he said. “We’re always looking for new folks to come and volunteer with us. There are plenty of opportunities for the public to come help us create this new very valuable habitat.”
Today in South Carolina, approximately 578,000 acres of natural molluscan shellfish (oysters, clams, and mussels) areas are monitored by the state. Responsible for the stewardship of these grounds, our Shellfish Sanitation Program monitors and surveys these areas to assure that the shellfish are suitable for human consumption.
With public health and safety in mind, the primary goal of our shellfish program is to ensure that shellfish and the areas from which they are harvested meet the health and environmental quality standards provided by federal guidelines and state regulations. In addition, the program promotes water quality restoration of state waters designated for the harvest of shellfish.
The patrol activities conducted by our Shellfish Officers play an important role in helping the program meet its goals. These patrols are conducted on foot, by boat, and on land vehicles. When necessary, aircraft patrols are coordinated with S.C. Department of Natural Resources. In order to perform patrols, our officers must go through intensive training by the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy. This training includes various classes, practical scenarios, firearms skills, and driver training to prepare graduates for their new careers.
We are proud to introduce the newest officer in our Shellfish Sanitation Program, Sydni Pope. Pope recently graduated from the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy, where she completed a rigorous twelve week long course to become a certified Class 1 Law Enforcement Officer.
Congratulations to Syndi, and thank you to all of our Shellfish Officers for the work that you do every day.