The North Carolina Coastal Federation is kicking off its 50 Million Oyster Initiative with the construction of at least 15 acres of oyster reef at the Swan Island Oyster Sanctuary. These acres are part of Senator Jean Preston Marine Oyster Sanctuary.

Project basics:

  • This sanctuary is located in the Pamlico Sound near the mouth of the Neuse River. The sanctuary will be constructed with limestone marl — which was purchased from a North Carolina quarry — that has been stockpiled at the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries’ South River facility in Carteret County.
  • Near the oyster sanctuary, DMF will be planting cultch. These cultch sites will provide a place for spat — baby oysters — to land and grow. Cultch sites will be open to harvest once oysters reach harvest size at 2-3 inches. The cultch sites and oyster sanctuary work together to create an interconnected network of oyster reefs.
  • A wide range of jobs are supported by this project, including private contractors, construction workers, scientists, university researchers, state agency employees and fishermen.
  • Year 1:
    • Approximately 25,000 tons of limestone marl were used for the first stage of the project. It took about 1,200 tractor trailer loads to bring the material to the South River facility, and each barge load holds 1,000 tons of material. Watch a video of a deployment.
    • Fifteen acres of oyster sanctuary were constructed, supporting approximately 15 million oysters.
    • Funding for the first stage of the project included:
  • Year 2:

Read a handout about the Swan Island Oyster Sanctuary.

Check out photos from the project below: