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Fisherman concerned about development
Charlie Phillips fishes the waters of coastal Georgia. - photo by Photo by John Deike


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The surroundings were pristine as a local fisherman and the Courier traversed the marshland coast of McIntosh County to observe the ecosystem, and discuss the impending threats it faces.
Charlie Phillips, who has fished the waters near Bellville for years, has growing concerns about the development, which is cropping up everywhere along the coast.
While admiring the porpoises and bald eagles, Phillips explained how the state is helping, but he stressed the importance of people petitioning to local and higher government officials to ensure the environmental efficiency of coastal development.
“Currently, McIntosh County is under a 90-day moratorium to revamp the zoning ordinances to help ensure a wiser placement plan for development,” he said. “The stormwater around here poses a large threat to this fragile ecosystem, and I think more counties should follow suit, and take a proactive stance on how and where all this new construction will be put.”
Altamaha river keeper, Deborah Shephard, is keeping a close eye on development plans as well to help lessen the eventual disruption of the ecosystem that the construction will cause.
“The amount of development adjacent to water bodies is marginal as the ecosystem is affected once the impervious surfaces (rooftops and driveways) cover 15 to 20 percent of the designated land,” she said. “The alarming problem is that developers want to cover about 80 percent of the land, and only leave 20 percent of green space open.”
Besides digressing on development, Phillips spoke about the fishing industry he has become accustomed to.
Phillips spends his days catching blue crab, shellfish and shrimp. He ships his catches up and down the east coast, and he is currently raising nearly 4,000,000 oysters to eventually sell off when they reach maturity.
Ironically though, as the construction industry grows, the fishing industry has shrunk.
“Between 2002 and 2005, the number of clam and shellfish has doubled in this area, and we have a chance to rebuild the fishing around here by meeting the demand of the projected newcomers.”
In the mean time, Phillips will continue to fish in his native waters as he maintains a reverent outlook toward the unique ecosystem he calls home.     

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