Meet our Partners: Chris Connaway

Our work touches the lives of everyone who lives, plays, and works at the coast. One of our contractors, Chris Connaway of Connaway Marine Construction, has worked with us on many restoration projects including living shoreline projects, causeway removal at Permuda Island, and oyster reef restoration projects in Stump Sound and Lockwood Folly River. He also attended the 2015 Oyster Summit in Raleigh and participated in a panel on engaging contractors in oyster restoration. For him, restoration projects aren’t just a job.

What is your personal connection to the water and living on the coast? 

It’s my way of life. I’ve lived on the water since I was less than 2 years old. I don’t know any different. It’s second nature to me. I’m more in the water, around the water, than in my own home. That’s how natural it is to me.

What role do you see for private contractors in habitat restoration?

I think it’s an awesome opportunity to do something good for the state as a whole, for the commercial fishing industry, and for everyone that likes oysters. Anybody that likes to eat an oyster benefits from habitat restoration. The private sector can go both ways, it can either really hurt or really help, depending on the mindset of who you’re talking to.

What have you learned from working on restoration projects?

Do more of them! The Coastal Federation does a lot of research before just dumping shell. The projects are extremely cost effective and accurate. We have been extremely happy with how the Coastal Federation has done the education part, permitting, etc. and have been really astute in putting those things together and doing the due diligence. The shell that we have placed for them will thrive and others should model these types of deployments.

What is your vision of the coast for future generations?

I have a 4 year old son and a 2 year old girl. My vision for them is to own and work the company with more restoration and being an example of what needs to be done in the state to give back. I would like to leave a legacy of oysters and clean water that future generations can count on.

I would like to see our oyster shells not leave our state. The budget for the shells in North Carolina is not what it is for Virginia and South Carolina and sometimes is purchased by other states. I’d like to allocate more funding to purchase more shell to keep it in the water it comes from. Keep local oysters local.