On Jan. 11, a key state environmental committee welcomed researchers from the North Carolina Shellfish Mariculture Advisory Committee and the North Carolina Policy Collaboratory for a review of the recently completed strategic plan to boost the state’s shellfish industry.

Researchers told lawmakers that a modest increase of state funding over the next decade could boost annual dockside sales of oysters and other shellfish to $33 million and create 1,000 jobs, mostly in the state’s rural coastal counties. The strategic plan includes 21 recommendations to reach these goals, including a number of funding proposals that the report totals at about $1.2 million per year made over 10 years.

The strategic plan was funded by the General Assembly in 2016. The North Carolina Coastal Federation hosted a number of stakeholder conversations to help shape the plan’s recommendations. Some of the key findings and recommendations include:

  • Small business loans and an oyster crop insurance program are key to helping the shellfish industry reach its full potential in North Carolina.
  • State agencies need more resources to address coastal water pollution, which prevent shellfish mariculture from taking hold in as much as one-third of state coastal waters.
  • North Carolina is losing out to other states in the competition for federal shellfish research funding — but modest state investments will allow North Carolina to win its fair share of this money.
  • Boosting the shellfish industry is not just about spending more money: a number of regulatory reforms will help grow the shellfish industry and reduce public use conflicts with boaters, fishermen and other groups.

The federation was proud to be involved in the development of the strategic plan’s recommendations — many of which will be included in the federation’s legislative priorities for 2019. Look for more detail about those priorities in future newsletters or check out nccoast.org/raleighreport for more information about our advocacy efforts in Raleigh.