Ambitious Vision for NC’s Oysters Outlined in New 5-Year Plan
Thursday, April 29, 2021
MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. -- Restoring oysters can boost water quality and offer shoreline protection from storms, and this week the North Carolina Coastal Federation released its five-year action plan, outlining steps to keep this valuable shellfish thriving.
Leda Cunningham, officer for Conserving Marine Life in the U.S. at the Pew Charitable Trusts, said North Carolina's oysters are in good shape, but face threats from storms, poor water quality and the impacts of climate change.
She believes the new Oyster Blueprint offers an example for other coastal states of how to restore and protect oyster populations.
"In those 15 or so years, it's led to measurable progress in the state, and that is really a result of the inclusive systematic approach that Coastal Fed has taken with its partners to identify challenges and opportunities with this special resource," Cunningham stated.
Guided by the Blueprint over the years, North Carolina has restored nearly 450 acres of oyster habitat, grown shellfish aquaculture from a $250,000 to $5 million industry, increased the number of shellfish farms in the state tenfold, and developed a nationally recognized shell recycling program.
Erin Fleckenstein, coastal scientist for the North Carolina Coastal Federation, said the plan includes new management strategies to help safeguard North Carolina's waters, particularly in the Newport River and Stump Sound.
"Make sure that they are pristine and healthy to grow oysters, making it safe enough to harvest oysters from those beds, allowing for continual recreational opportunities," Fleckenstein outlined.
Cunningham added oysters add numerous benefits for coastal communities.
"Restoring oysters would add so much value to the coast," Cunningham asserted. "More oysters mean cleaner water, better recreational fishing, more wildlife, more resilient shorelines, more fishing jobs and more healthy local food."
Goals outlined in the Blueprint include building an additional 100 acres of oyster sanctuary in Pamlico Sound, creating a cohesive oyster shell recycling program along the coast and in specific inland areas to help support habitat-restoration projects, and building 200 acres of reef to support wild harvest.
Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Disclosure: The Pew Charitable Trusts - Environmental Group contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Climate Change/Air Quality, Consumer Issues, Endangered Species and Wildlife, Energy Policy, Environment, Health Issues, Public Lands/Wilderness, and Salmon Recovery. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
get more stories like this via email
Health and Wellness
ARLINGTON, Va. -- COVID-19 has exposed inequities in health care, and this year's Greater Washington Region Heart Walk aims to raise funds to close …
Health and Wellness
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Congress has an opportunity to help lower prescription-drug costs for Ohioans, who, along with other Americans pay roughly three …
BLOOMINGTON, IN -- Universities in Indiana are working to support Afghan students and scholars; both those still in Afghanistan and those arriving to …
ALBANY, N.Y. - Groups in support of renewable energy are pushing for legislation and other initiatives to accelerate complete electrification of …
BOISE, Idaho - Action on behalf of Northwest salmon could be in the works after announcements from the Biden administration, leaders in Washington …
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -- After the first settlement of its kind in North Carolina capping limits on emissions from a biogas plant in Sampson County…
HILLSBORO, Ore. -- The Oregon Department of Agriculture recently completed an investigation into a suburban Portland school for the misuse of toxic …
HELENA, Mont. - Republican lawmakers in Montana want to investigate the 2020 election. Some are concerned this could weaken trust in voting. In a …