In the late 1880s, oysters from North Carolina were being harvested at unprecedented rates and shipped by boxcar to San Francisco and New York.
According to available data, the harvest peak occurred in 1902 with 800,000 bushels of oysters–5.6 million pounds of oyster meat–harvested from N.C. waters. Oysters were viewed as a delicacy by some, and as an aphrodisiac by others contributing to their intense popularity. Since the harvest peak, North Carolina’s oyster harvests declined a low of 35,000 bushels in 1994. 2017 harvest was approximately 158,000 bushels.
Reasons for the decline
taking too much shell from the water (over-harvest)
unsuitable water quality
Despite some recovery, oysters are still listed as a species of concern.
The North Carolina Coastal Federation collaborates with multiple stakeholders and partners to promote oyster restoration, education, science, mariculture and sustainable harvest efforts in the state. We are the state’s only 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that focuses exclusively on protecting and restoring the coast of North Carolina through education, advocacy and habitat preservation and restoration. With our partners, we aim to have the North Carolina coast regarded as the “Napa Valley” of oysters. Connect with us to stay informed about upcoming oyster events, the latest news and science and oyster restoration efforts.