Floating oyster cages potentially coming to Lowcountry

VIDEO: Floating oyster cages may be coming to Lowcountry

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Floating oyster cages are already a popular growing method in neighboring states and even in some places already in the Palmetto state.

But now they may be coming to the Lowcountry.

One proposal has already been submitted for cages to come to the Odessa Creek/Green Creek area off the Stono River and one proposal on Steamboat Creek.

The Coastal Conservation League says the submission for the Stono River has recently been withdrawn from consideration, leaving only the Steamboat Creek application.

Community members and state representatives say they are worried floating oyster cages will impact the view of waterfront homes, but some oyster growers say these cages are needed due to the high oyster demand.

“The oyster population is being harvested faster than it can recover,” said Frank Roberts, the owner of Lady’s Island Oyster Farm.

The growers say they understand the unsightliness of the cages but want to stress the benefits of them to those who are concerned.

Roberts says an oyster traditionally takes up to three years to develop, but the floating cages help them grow to the same size in 10 to 12 months.

There are several restrictions that growers have to follow when placing new cages.

After getting the proper applications filled out and permits obtained, they still have to follow certain rules on placement.

“We are not permitted to occupy the deep portion of the creek because we have to leave areas for boat navigation, occupy only on third of the creek space, and we have to stay 75 feet from the low tideline so that there is public and boat access,” said Julie Davis, a SC Shellfish representative.

State Senator Sandy Senn says she isn’t fully opposed to the cages but wants strict and enforced regulations on them.

If needed, she says she will propose a bill that would keep the cages in very specific parts of the county away from common areas.

There are several steps that growers have to go through before their application is accepted.

So far the Steamboat submission is still in the beginning stages.

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