Oysters from the Legislative Oyster Reception on March 22 in Raleigh.

We had an informative and productive time at the Sound Economic Development: Creating a Rising Economic Tide for the North Carolina Coast summit in March. It was a great opportunity to educate legislators and policymakers on the importance of oysters to the coast and the economy. Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael Regan spoke to attendees in support of the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s efforts, and a number of legislators joined us for the Legislative Oyster Reception. Special thanks to Sen. Bill Rabon, Sen. Norman Sanderson, Sen. Harry Brown, Sen. Pat McElraft, Sen. Michael Lee, Sen. Bill Cook and Rep. Holly Grange, who served as honorary hosts for the reception.

The support and encouragement from so many in Raleigh shows that our efforts to educate policymakers about the value of oyster restoration in supporting and growing the coastal economy. But, our work is not done, and the federation needs your help to continue to spread the word.

Here are some things you can do to keep the momentum going from the summit:

  1. Call your legislator and ask them to support funding for oyster restoration. You can find your local legislator by searching for your address at: http://www.ncleg.net/representation/WhoRepresentsMe.aspx. Each legislator has their phone number listed on their website.
  2. Send a letter asking your legislator to support oyster restoration funding. Paper mail is actually more effective than email because the legislative offices are so inundated with email. Mailing addresses are also found on each legislator’s website.
  3. Write a letter thanking those legislators who served as honorary hosts of our legislative reception. It is so powerful to thank legislators for their hard work on our behalf.

To get you started, here are a few talking points on the federation’s work on oysters:

  • Oyster restoration creates jobs: In 2009, a $5 million, federally-funded oyster restoration project created 66 acres of oyster reefs in the Pamlico Sound and provided 141,200 hours of employment (140 full-time equivalents) for a variety of North Carolinians, including barge operators, tug boat and ferry captains, mining employees, truckers, commercial fishermen, quarry owners, boat captains, state agency employees, scientists and others.
  • Oyster restoration supports our coastal economy: In 2015, an independent study concluded that coastal habitat enhancement programs managed by the state Division of Marine Fisheries provide $4 in benefits for every $1 invested in the coastal region.
  • Oyster restoration brings federal dollars to our region: Four federal agencies (Agriculture, Commerce, Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency) match or provide oyster funding.
  • Oysters filter and clean the water that is critical to our fishing and tourism industries: An adult oyster is capable of filtering up to 50 gallons of water a day.
  • The federation is setting big goals with the 50 Million Oyster Initiative: By 2020, the federation and its partners will restore 50 million oysters in North Carolina waters. These 50 million oysters will filter and clean 2.5 billion gallons of water per day, benefiting fisheries and the tourism industry.
  • Legislators can help us continue these efforts: Please continue to support funding in the state budget for oyster beds and restoration programs.

Thank you for your help and your ongoing support of North Carolina oysters and coast!

Sign up for updates on our work in the legislature at nccoast.org/raleighreport.