The North Carolina Coastal Federation’s southeast region along with 37 volunteers including our southeast coastal ambassadors, Marines from Camp LeJeune, SERVPRO of New Hanover, Rhea Engineers & Consultants, Inc, and Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar, Surf City created 552 bags of recycled oyster shells, approximately 5 tons, and 600 bags of marl, approximately 9 tons.
These shell bags will be used to create oyster reef habitat as part of the living shoreline at Morris Landing Clean Water Preserve. The living shoreline project is funded by a grant from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission through the Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership and their partnership with the National Marine Fisheries Service and the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration. The project is also supported by funding from the NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund.
“We love and appreciate our volunteers so much! What a treat to spend valentine’s day working alongside these dedicated and motivated group of individuals,” said Bonnie Mitchell, coastal education coordinator. “Seeing all these folks with such different backgrounds coming together to protect and restore the coast is an inspiration!”
The oyster bags will be stacked along the shoreline to create new oyster reef habitat. The shell structure will attract oyster larvae settlement which will promote oyster growth and the formation of reef habitat. The new reef will offer fish and many other organisms valuable habitat, and it will provide many other ecosystem services. Salt marsh habitat creation landward of the new reef will also be a component of the living shoreline project. The living shoreline will help to stabilize shores and protect them from erosion.
Oyster shell is a valuable resource in the state of North Carolina. It is used by the federation, N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries and others to build new oyster reefs. The federation’s oyster shell recycling program provides a way to collect the shells that may otherwise be improperly disposed of. This type of program gives both restaurants and private consumers a chance to return their shells to the water.
In 2007 the Division of Marine Fisheries worked with the federation to prepare a 1-acre portion of Morris Landing to stockpile oyster shells for restoration projects. The area can now hold approximately 50,000 bushels of oyster shell. The pier and stockpile area at Morris Landing represents the only permanent oyster restoration staging areas between Carteret and Brunswick counties. The site is used to stockpile recycled oyster shell from area restaurants and drop off sites, as well as to store shell and reef material purchased from shucking houses and quarries.