Oyster farmer working on oyster lease

With support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Coastal Federation has completed a feasibility study to determine the key logistical needs of the shellfish industry. The focus was to understand what the industry needed to grow sustainably and propose a plan to address those needs. Ultimately the study identified ways to reduce barriers for those interested in becoming active in mariculture, those currently in the industry, and those interested in business expansion.

The feasibility study identified several challenges that growers face when starting or expanding their businesses:

  • access to healthy or clean waters
  • refrigeration facilities to house freshly harvested products
  • areas to work and process their product.

To overcome these obstacles the study recommends the development of a network of mariculture hubs along the coast. These hubs would be strategically located in Onslow, Carteret, and Hyde Counties. The vision is to integrate these hubs into local communities, aligning them with the communities’ specific needs and fostering a coordinated approach to support the state’s shellfish industry.

While addressing immediate grower needs, the hubs will also build capacity in vulnerable rural communities. These communities are often the ones that are hit harder by hurricanes and other storms. Increasing their resiliency, capability to recover, and viable economic alternatives within their own community is important for their prosperity.

Currently, the Federation is actively working on establishing the first hub in the community of Straits, located in Carteret County. The County Commission has generously allowed the use of its property on North River, and the Golden Leaf Foundation has provided $200,000 in funding for the project. The Federation is also working towards securing additional funds to further support the initiative.