CLEMSON — With an economic impact of $33.4 billion, natural resources are major contributors to South Carolina economy and quality of life. To train people to help sustain these resources, Clemson University is establishing a Fisheries and Aquatic Center of Excellence.
The center, also known as FACE, will be located in the forestry and environmental conservation department. Troy Farmer and Brandon Peoples, assistant professors of fisheries ecology, are leading the center’s establishment.
FACE will be a collaboration of Clemson and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, as well as others associated with the outdoor recreation industry. Farmer said FACE is being established because of the increasing demand for highly trained college graduates to work as fisheries scientists with state and federal agencies and private consulting firms.
“The central goal of the center is to promote research that will enhance management and conservation of South Carolina’s aquatic and fisheries resources,” Farmer said. “We also want to provide the highest quality training and education for the next generation of fisheries biologists, managers, scientists and other professionals. In addition, we will have an outreach component that involves the delivery and dissemination of fisheries management and conservation information to private landowners, professionals, policymakers and the general public.”
Academic programs will be provided through forestry and environmental conservation. Outreach programs will be conducted through Clemson University Public Service and Agriculture.
FACE’s establishment began after Greg Yarrow, professor and chair of forestry and environmental conservation, determined it would be an excellent way to train individuals to provide researched-based information to sustain the state resources. The center is in the process of securing funds it needs to ensure it can meet its goals.
“An investment in the center is an investment in educating and training future fisheries professionals,” Yarrow said. “It also is an investment in ensuring South Carolina’s fisheries resources will be around for generations to come.”
Farmer said there was a lot of interest in the center during the Bassmaster Classic recently held on Hartwell Lake.
South Carolina’s forests cover 13 million of the state’s 20.5 million acres and and water for 1.3 million acres. The state has 11,000 miles of rivers and streams and more than 1,600 lakes larger than 10 acres, including 19 reservoirs greater than 1,000 acres, and 2,876 miles of coastal shoreline.
Natural resources have the largest economic impact of any industry in the state. Fish- and wildlife-related recreation contributes $1.7 billion annually to the state’s economy, with $686 million spent annually on fishing alone. Fish- and wildlife-related activities support more than 31,000 jobs in South Carolina, many of which are provided by local outdoor recreation companies based here.
Alvin Taylor, director of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, said natural resources are an important part of the state’s charm.
“South Carolina’s natural resources are our most valuable economic asset,” he said Alvin Taylor. “Natural resources are the major contributor to our quality of life, which is why corporations want to locate here, why people want to move here and it is why people want to stay here.”