North Carolina Shellfish Initiative to launch Aug. 2

North Carolina to launch state Shellfish Initiative at public event on Aug. 2

MOREHEAD CITY — North Carolina will officially join a national effort that demonstrates the social, economic and environmental importance of shellfish at a public event at the North Carolina State University Center for Marine Sciences and Technology (CMAST) on Aug. 2 from 10 a.m. until noon.

Michael Regan, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ), will announce Governor Cooper’s support for the North Carolina Shellfish Initiative. The statewide initiative is modeled after the National Shellfish Initiative — the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) program to increase the population of shellfish in the nation’s coastal waters. The North Carolina Shellfish Initiative will advance the State’s work to strengthen the coastal economy, create jobs and promote sustainable seafood and shellfish restoration.

The new state initiative prioritizes four goals: job creation, protection of water quality, protection of shellfish health and sustainable management.

The North Carolina Shellfish Initiative reflects the growing importance of shellfish conservation and the industry’s benefits to the coastal economy. North Carolina is the sixth state in the country and the first in the southeast to follow the federal model and establish an initiative to increase shellfish.

State shellfish initiatives provide a vehicle to leverage existing partnerships, grant programs and regulatory authorities to maximize the benefits of shellfish. Establishing innovative partnerships among state agencies, local governments, the federal government, the shellfish industry and nonprofit organizations is an effective and efficient way to maintain both vibrant coastal communities and healthy coastal ecosystems.

“North Carolina has a history of collaboration among public, private and academic sectors to transform ideas into actions that advance shellfish restoration and mariculture,” said Dr. Ken Riley, a marine ecologist with NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science. “Over the last 15 years, the state has garnered public attention with significant investment in shellfish restoration and the growth of the shellfish farms. NOAA is pleased to partner with the State contributing tools and expertise for siting shellfish farms and oyster restoration projects, which increase opportunities to sustainably harvest shellfish.”

The Aug. 2 announcement is open to the public and will begin with brief remarks from Sec. Regan as well as representatives from other federal, state and private stakeholders involved in shellfish restoration, production and research and development.

Following these remarks, reporters and the public are invited to participate in a short walking tour around CMAST’s campus to learn more about North Carolina shellfish activities and programs from industry, agency, university, and nonprofit partners. The tour will include a visit to the North Carolina Sea Grant Shellfish Farming Demonstration Center, a regional technology center and proving ground for training prospective growers such as commercial fishermen wishing to enter the mariculture industry.

By leveraging partnerships and sharing knowledge and resources through the North Carolina Shellfish Initiative, partners will be able to preserve the state’s rich shellfish history while also fostering a sustainable future.

For more information, contact Erin Fleckenstein with the North Carolina Coastal Federation at erinf@nccoast.org.

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