Recently, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper charged Susi Hamilton, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, with helping lead his administration’s efforts to assist the state’s rural counties.

That’s good news for the North Carolina Coastal Federation and its oyster efforts.

Hamilton, a former state representative from New Hanover County, has seen firsthand the benefits the shellfish industry can have on the coastal economy and its natural resources.

So it was no surprise that she spent more than two hours last week with Todd Miller, the federation’s executive director, and Erin Fleckenstein, coastal scientist and manager at the Wanchese office, discussing the administration’s plans for rural economic development and how the oyster industry can be part of them.

Of particular interest to Hamilton is a North Carolina Oyster Trail to bring visitors to the coast and see the industry up close. Other states, including Virginia, have had success with their oyster trails, which feature tours of shellfish aquaculture sites, local restaurants and art related to oysters. Stakeholders have already started meeting to create preliminary plans for an oyster trail in North Carolina.

Creating public-private partnerships with fishermen and others in oyster cultch planting and other shellfish efforts is another key priority for Hamilton, as is helping the shellfish mariculture industry grow.

For more information about the economic potential of oysters,, one-stop shop for all things oysters.