Oyster Sanctuaries are large-scale oyster restoration reefs built in Pamlico Sound. They are typically five to 50 acres in size. Sanctuaries are closed to harvest but open to hook-and-line fishing. They are strategically placed to create reefs that provide reliable oyster larvae that reseed the wild population and cultch planted areas. Recent research indicates that as a restoration strategy, oyster sanctuaries provide more oysters per area and larger oysters per area than other reef types.

Partnership Build Sanctuaries

The Federation has partnered with the NC Division of Marine Fisheries and a private marine contractor on the construction of four oyster sanctuaries since 2009: Crab Hole, Clam Shoal, Swan Island, and Cedar Island. With a combination of federal grants and state appropriations, this partnership has built over 100 acres of oyster sanctuary in Pamlico Sound.

Did You Know?

  • Oyster sanctuaries make up 6% of all oyster reefs in Pamlico Sound, but support nearly 20% of the oyster population.
  • Oyster sanctuaries host 10 times more oysters than other reef types.
  • For every dollar invested in habitat restoration, $4.05 in benefits are realized from augmented fish harvest to water quality improvements.

What can you do:

Click here to visit our partner, the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, website for more about the other oyster sanctuaries in North Carolina.