MOREHEAD CITY — A recent survey of area commercial and recreational fishermen by Coastal Carolina Riverwatch found their two top water quality concerns are runoff from agricultural operations and factory farms and runoff from roads and parking lots.
“Through research and assessment, we know that industrial agriculture and factory farming impacts water quality, and therefore fisheries, through runoff of chemical and bacterial pollutants,” Lisa Rider, executive director of Morehead City-based Coastal Carolina Riverwatch, said in a press release Wednesday. “North Carolinians can help reduce these impacts by supporting sustainable farms and advocating for improvements in industrial farm regulations that reduce or eliminate impacts to water quality.
“Together, we are identifying recommended future actions to improve water quality through the voices of the coastal fishing community,” she continued.
According to the responses of 376 people to the online survey, conducted by the East Carolina University Center for Survey Research, other top five concerns voiced by fishermen were plastics pollution, industrial pollution and municipal waste treatment and septic tank pollution.
The survey was conducted under CCRW’s Water Quality for Fisheries, or WQ4F, Program. The purpose of the program is to identify and address the impacts of water quality on the state’s fisheries, Ms. Rider said in the release.
“Part of this process includes researching and assessing what is currently being done to address water quality issues that impact fisheries,” she said. “The assessment part of this project will include what is being done to address sources of pollution from all areas of NC (including those outside of the coastal area). The assessment will also include recommended future actions to address water quality concerns.”
According to the release, the recommended future actions will come from the WQ4F research and assessment team and the industry working group, which is comprised of commercial and recreational fishermen.
CCRW launched the WQ4F program in early 2021. The project addresses water quality improvement through collaborative objectives being developed in partnership with fisheries communities, the release states.
According to its website, in 2016, CCRW became the official license-holder for Crystal Coast Waterkeeper. In 2017, it acquired the license for White Oak-New Riverkeeper Alliance.
For more information about the survey results, visit coastalcarolinariverwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Carolina_Riverwatch_Summary_Report1.pdf.