- 50 acres of oyster reef
- 50 million oysters
- 2.5 billion gallons of water, filtered daily
- Millions of fish and wildlife supported
In January 2017, the North Carolina Coastal Federation launched its 50 Million Oyster Initiative, a three-year campaign to restore 50 million oysters in North Carolina waters.
By 2020, the federation and its partners plan to create 50 new acres of oyster sanctuary throughout North Carolina. With each acre supporting approximately one million oysters, there will be 50 million oysters supporting many different species of fish and wildlife. And with each oyster capable of filtering 50 gallons of water per day, those 50 million oysters will filter 2.5 billion gallons of water — every single day.
The 50 Million Oyster Initiative puts all of oysters’ many benefits to work, short-term and long-term. It provides jobs for contractors, fishermen, construction workers, truck drivers and many others during the construction of the reefs. After the reefs are completed, the initiative will improve fish habitat and water quality, which benefits both commercial and recreational fishermen, the tourism industry and the coastal environment as a whole for years to come.
In the first year of the 50 Million Oyster Initiative, the federation, the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries and other partners constructed 15 acres of oyster reef at the Swan Island Oyster Sanctuary, which is part of the Senator Jean Preston Oyster Sanctuary. An additional 1.5 acres of reef were restored in the Cape Fear River through living shoreline projects across the state.
In the second year of the 50 Million Oyster Initiative, another 10 acres of oyster reef were built in the Pamlico Sound at the Swan Island Oyster Sanctuary, building on that project’s initial success. An additional 2.5 acres of patch reef were built at various sites throughout the state’s shellfishing waters, including at Carolina Beach State Park, the Wanchese Marine Industrial Park and several living shoreline projects that incorporated oyster reef materials.
In the third year of the 50 Million Oyster Initiative, an additional 12 acres of oyster reef were added to the Swan Island Sanctuary. An additional 2 acres of patch reef will be built in the Cape Fear River.
To date nearly 41 acres of oyster reef have been built throughout North Carolina’s shellfishing waters.