OCEAN – Continuing its efforts to foster the shellfish mariculture industry, and with the support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the Department of Commerce, the North Carolina Coastal Federation has completed a feasibility study to determine the most prominent needs of the shellfish industry and propose a plan to address them. The ultimate goal of the plan is to help people interested in starting a mariculture business or expand an existing one.

The feasibility study determined that some of the biggest barriers that shellfish growers face are ways to access the water and work areas and be able to refrigerate and process their product on site. The study recommends developing a network of shellfish mariculture business incubators along the coast to service these needs.

Through the study, the federation proposes building three regional incubators to kick start industry growth – in Onslow, Carteret and Hyde Counties. The long-term vision is for these sites to be integrated into the local communities to provide a larger economic boost state-wide.

“Developing incubators is crucial to advancing North Carolina’s shellfish industry as they will improve growers’ chances of being successful in a very challenging business. They can help fill many voids that currently exist in our industry including infrastructure, water access, distribution, education, technology, and innovation”, said Chris Matteo the president of the North Carolina Shellfish Growers Association.

Through the implementation of this project, the federation is also increasing the resiliency of vulnerable rural communities many of which are disproportionately impacted by hurricanes and other climate disasters, and often struggle to recover. By encouraging the development of model alternative economic opportunities, this initiative will hopefully increase financial diversification and community capability to recover from future environmental disasters.  

To read the full feasibility study, click here. For more information, contact Ana Zivanovic-Nenadovic, Assistant Director of Policy.