Water Quality For Fisheries 🐟

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Protecting quality of water and quality of life in Coastal North Carolina

🐟Water Quality For Fisheries🐟
Water Quality for Fisheries is a priority program for Coastal Carolina Riverwatch. The purpose of the Water Quality for Fisheries (WQ4F) Program is to identify and address the impacts of water quality on the North Carolina fisheries. “We do so by working directly with the coastal fishing communities. The commercial and recreational fishing communities represent the voice of the coast and come directly in contact with water quality issues before many of us realize the impact.” – Lisa Rider, CCRW Executive Director

Water Quality Priorities Identified by Coastal North Carolina Fishermen:

  • Agriculture and Factory Farm Runoff
  • Stormwater Runoff from Roads, Highways, and Parking Lots
  • Industrial Pollutants
  • Plastic Pollution
  • Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants and Septic Tanks

Coastal Carolina Riverwatch. 2021. “Commercial and Recreational Fishermen Survey.” ECU Center for Survey Research, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC. March 4-21.


As part of the Water Quality for Fisheries Program, Coastal Carolina Riverwatch is producing a documentary film to elevate the voices of Coastal Carolina fishing communities. Stay tuned for 2022 announcements on how and where to watch the film. The film will also be available for school classrooms and other educational opportunities upon request. For more information, you may contact CCRW Executive Director, Lisa Rider.
PHOTO: WQ4F Film Crew (Keva Creative, LLC), Rick Kearney, Board President,
Lisa Rider, Executive Director, Otway, NC, L. Rider, 2021.

The Industry Working Group (IWG)

The Industry Working Group (IWG), made up of the North Carolina coastal commercial and recreational fishing community, play a vital role in the WQ4F program.

The IWG represents the voice of our coastal fishing community and have come together to resolve water quality issues that impact fisheries.

In 2021, the IWG met the following goals:

  1. Collaborate and communicate with other fisheries representatives to address concerns about how water quality impacts fisheries.
  2. Collectively learn (from the WQ4F Assessment Process) what is currently being done in the State to address water quality issues impacting fisheries.
  3. Collaboratively make recommendations on what more needs to be done to improve water quality for fisheries.
  4. Propose next steps to address gaps in addressing what is not currently being done to address water quality issues.

Coastal Carolina Riverwatch Water Quality for Fisheries Industry Working Group (IWG):

Thomas Newman – Williamston
Mark Hooper – Smyrna
Mike Blanton – Elizabeth City
Sam Romano – Wilmington
Glenn Skinner – Newport
Greg Ludlum – North Topsail Beach
Joey Van Dyke – Frisco
Krissi Fountain – Wrightsville Beach
Jot Owens – Wilmington

Source: L. Rider, 2020, Cape Lookout National Seashore.
Pure Farms, Pure Waters and Water Quality for Fisheries

Coastal Carolina Riverwatch re-launched, revamped, and refueled the (White Oak River water basin) Pure Farms, Pure Waters Program in the mid-summer of 2021. CCRW also launched the Water Quality for Fisheries program in early 2021.

Just like the first law of ecology, everything is connected. The two programs address water quality improvement through several collaborative objectives. In the coastal community, everything is connected to our coastal waters and our fisheries. Now, both programs are elevating coastal voices through advocacy to improve water quality with a focus on priority areas outlined by survey work.

A research-based survey was conducted among the NC coastal fishing community (recreational and commercial) to identify prioritized water quality concerns. From these results, it was determined that agricultural and factory farm runoff was the number one concern. Pure Farms, Pure Waters is a program that works directly to address water quality issues that have a direct impact from industrial agriculture and factory farm runoff.

“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. 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. Coastal Carolina Riverwatch (CCRW) staff, board, and members are grateful for the support and collaboration from the commercial and recreational fishing community. Together, we are identifying recommended future actions to improve water quality through the voices of the coastal fishing community.” – Lisa Rider, Executive Director, Coastal Carolina Riverwatch

“Industrial agriculture pollution has affected North Carolinians for decades. Unmanageable animal waste and copious amounts of fertilizers and pesticides are running into our waterways. This is all exacerbated by extreme weather events that our state regularly experiences. These water quality impacts are felt deeply by coastal fishing communities who depend on our waters as a way of life. Through the Water Quality for Fisheries program we are working collaboratively to amplify these voices and move towards a more sustainable future for our fisheries, farms, and all North Carolinians.” -Rebecca Drohan, Waterkeeper, Coastal Carolina Riverwatch

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