Environmental impact must be focus on fishery

A demonstration put on by the company that wants to bring a jellyfish fishery to Beaufort County is nice, but unimportant.

The Millenarian Trading Co. wants to harvest cannonball jellyfish in local waters, bring them to the docks at Port Royal and then process them for the Asian market in Gardens Corner.

The company thinks that bringing a haul of jellyfish to the dock, to be loaded and trucked away, will convince the public it has nothing to fear from the new fishery. It comes as residents get wind of a jellyfish processing operation in Georgia that purportedly creates a horrible stench.

Millenarian Trading Co. says that would not be the case in Port Royal.

No doubt, its "trial run" would prove that on a one-time basis.

But Port Royal, Beaufort County and state of South Carolina leaders must not be distracted by this demonstration.

The real question is what jellyfish harvesting -- and most importantly, processing -- would do to the environment.

The processing is to take place on the marshes of Huspah Creek.

This process, as explained to the public, involves a lot of salt and alum. The discharge is of great concern.

State agencies assigned to protect the natural resources must dig deeply into this proposal and shoot it down if it will harm creeks, rivers, marshes, wildlife or the water table.

Decisions must be a matter of science, not "trial runs."

The town of Port Royal, and the State Ports Authority, which owns the dock at Port Royal, need to be certain jellyfish harvesting and processing will not damage the environment before approving use of the docks.

The proposal should not be seen strictly in terms of jobs because healthy marshes and creeks are the bedrock of the local economy. Any threat to the waterways and marshes is a threat to the economy.

Those who are expected to protect these natural resources need to keep their eyes on the ball. They must not be distracted by a demonstration put on by the company that stands to gain financially from the new fishery.