Jellyfish could help bring jobs, money to Beaufort County

Thousands and thousands of Cannonball jellyfish were unloaded in Port Royal as part of an experimental trial with DNR (Scott Garrand/WCIV).

By Sonya

PORT ROYAL, S.C. (WCIV) -- Most of us think of seafood as shrimp, crab, oysters, clams, and fish but there is a kind of jellyfish that is popular to eat among one culture -- and one local town is hoping to turn their abundance of the creatures into a money-making industry.

Thousands and thousands of Cannonball jellyfish were unloaded in Port Royal as part of an experimental trial with the Department of Natural Resources.

"Jellyfish has a tremendous amount of potential here," said Steven Giese of Millenarian Trading, Inc.

And that is why Millenarian Trading wants to bring a jellyfish processing facility to Beaufort County.

"Taking jellyfish from the wild and processing them primarily for the Asian marketplace," said Giese. "A lot of these will go into your local Asian markets or majority will be exported to Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong where they have a voracious appetite for these type products."

The processing is all done by hand one at a time.

"When they shuck the jellyfish it is all done manually. It's a very labor intensive process," said Giese. "Then you rinse the jellyfish and the purpose is to take the slime and outer coating that is on the jellyfish."

Then it is all packed is a special salt to help draw the moisture out.

This project is still in the test phase right now, but local shrimpers are already onboard.

"It's an extra income and as bad as the shrimp season has been for them for us it will be a good thing," said Mark Smith, State President of SC Shrimpers Association.

Jellyfish season just ended and shrimp season is about to begin, so the timing is perfect for those fishermen that want to stay busy year-round.

"So far every year, there has been an overload of jelly balls and we have been able to keep it going and I say it's the best thing that ever happened for the shrimping industry for the ones that is willing to spend all the money and all the time," said Capt. Walter Boone.

Boone is a shrimper and has helped pioneer this fishery.

"We've done 13 years of study with the DNR in Georgia and they just could not believe how clean the operation is," said Boone. "You dump 10,000 pounds and you have only got one or two fish, no turtles, it's the cleanest operation, business. They are real happy."

This industry could be just the economic boost that the area needs, bringing{}as many as 250{}jobs while also helping local fishermen.

"Processing won't be done in Port Royal. This will simply be a gateway for the boats to come and unload their product and then the product will be transferred to other parts of the Beaufort County area that are traditional fish processing type areas, but this will breathe new life into a fishing industry that has constantly declined," said Giese.

So these slimy sea creatures might be just the ticket for bringing this small fishing village back to its roots.

Cannonball Jellyfish{}contains a lot of proteins that{}are believed to help with memory loss and other effects of{}aging. It is usually eaten like pasta.