Oyster populations, worldwide, are at record lows. Despite some recovery in recent years, in North Carolina it is estimated that oysters are at about 15-20% of historic harvest levels. Oyster harvest is currently the best measure of the oyster population.
Oysters are vital to North Carolina’s coastal ecology and economy. They filter water, provide food for humans and create reefs that build homes for more fish. These environmental functions, in turn, support jobs and provide economic opportunities for coastal communities.
The North Carolina Coastal Federation and its partners are restoring oyster populations by executing the Oyster Restoration and Protection Plan: A Blueprint for Action 2015-2020, which contains goals and provides a framework for oyster restoration and the advancement of oyster mariculture. We are working closely with and helping to coordinate the efforts of all stakeholders to build a statewide network of oyster sanctuaries, enhance shellfish management areas, improve and protect water quality and implement other priority actions. We also engage and educate the public to build political support for oyster restoration.
Our 2020 Goals:
Often called the ‘Napa Valley of oysters’, North Carolina has a rich history of producing delicious, high quality oysters through wild catch and oyster farming (mariculture). Given the importance of oysters to our state, the Coastal Federation has committed to work to foster thriving oysters that support vibrant fisheries and habitat, good water quality and a strong coastal economy. In 2020 we are collaborating with long-time partners to update the Oyster Blueprint, conducting restoration projects, ramping up oyster shell recycling and educating and engaging our communities on this valuable resource.
Support the federations efforts to build new oyster reefs throughout the state
The North Carolina Coastal Federation has developed a working map of sites along the North Carolina coast where oyster restoration projects have been built. This map features descriptions, photos, funding agencies and more. Click on the various sites below and check back for new additions.
Check out these resources for all things oysters:
- 2020 Mariculture Feasibility Study
- NCOysters.org, all things North Carolina oysters
- Oyster Restoration and Protection: A Blueprint for Action 2015-2020, the current edition of the oyster Blueprint
- Launching a North Carolina Shellfish Initiative
- NC Strategic Plan for Shellfish Mariculture 2018
- Rural Development Annual Report 2017-2018
- 2018 Swan Island Oyster Sanctuary Handout
- Listen: Podcast about conserving oyster reefs