MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCSC) - The changing climate is impacting the fishing industry in the Lowcountry.
On Monday, Congressman Joe Cunningham met with fisherman and other stakeholders who have been impacted by the changing ocean climate.
Cunningham toured Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant.
He is introducing legislation on Tuesday in Washington, D.C. to help Lowcountry fishermen plan for the future and make sure they have the tools necessary to keep fishing sustainable for generations to come.
“They have to go out and bring in a few hundred pounds of shrimp every trip in order to break even, and some days they’re just not doing that and a lot of it has to do with the changing in conditions,” Cunningham said. “I think we need to recognize that and facts should not be partisan.”
He says he learned that in August the surface water temperature in Shem Creek was around 89 degrees, and the average in the past was 83 degrees.
"So a six degrees difference is huge, we all know what a one degree difference can make," Cunningham said.
Cunningham says the bill he’s introducing is called the Climate Ready Fisheries Act of 2019. He says it instructs the government accountability office to produce reports showing how different fisheries are making changes to address climate change.
“It’s an issue that’s not going away. It’s an issue we’re going to have to come together on. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and actually effectuate change,” Cunningham said. “There’s a lot at stake here."
The meeting was organized by the Good Catch Program through the South Carolina Aquarium. It supports local fisheries and sustainable seafood practices.