September 19, 2017
Federation receives $1.088 million NOAA grant for oyster restoration
North Carolina Coastal Federation received $1.088 million in funding
from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to continue
its oyster restoration work in Pamlico Sound. Construction on the
second phase of the project is slated to begin next January.
This is the second year the federation has received funding from NOAA’s Community-based Restoration Program
for its oyster restoration work. Last year, it was awarded a $1.275
million grant. By the end of the three-year period, the federation
could receive up to $3.8 million for oyster reef construction. This
funding supports the federation’s goal to build 50 acres of oyster reef
statewide through its 50 Million Oyster Initiative.
Matching state budget appropriations from the North Carolina General
Assembly have helped the federation receive this federal grant funding
in 2016 and 2017.
State senators Harry Brown, Bill Cook, Bill Rabon and Norman Sanderson
and representatives Pat McElraft and Chuck McGrady were critical in
helping to encourage the state legislature to include the funding in
the General Assembly’s $23 billion budget.
When combined with existing state funding, the budget provides $1.3
million to continue work on the Senator Jean Preston Oyster Sanctuary
“I’m quite pleased that this year’s work was able to be completed in a
timely fashion to restore our vital oyster populations,” Sen. Cook
said. “And glad to see the state appropriation being matched by federal
grant monies to continue the work next year.”
Gov. Roy Cooper’s office also helped secure the federal grant funding. As part of the grant requirement, he wrote a letter to NOAA stressing the importance of oysters to North Carolina’s coastal economy and environment.
With last year’s funding, the federation partnered with the North
Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries, Stevens Towing Company, Inc. and
several universities to site and construct 15 acres of oyster reef — the Swan Island Oyster Sanctuary
— in Pamlico Sound near the mouth of the Neuse River. These acres are
part of the Senator Jean Preston Oyster Sanctuary Network.
"The Swan Island Oyster Sanctuary project of 2017 was a tremendous
example of smart public-private partnerships. The partnership with the
North Carolina Coastal Federation doubled the amount of funding
available for this oyster sanctuary,” said Steve Murphey, habitat and
enhancement section chief at the division. “The direct contracting of a
North Carolina firm, Stevens Towing, to deploy the material purchased
and staged by the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries at its stockpile
site in South River (Carteret County), provided a greatly expedited
project timeline for deployment.”
Through the NOAA funding and matching state appropriations, the
federation and partners are able to get closer to the 50-acre goal of
the 50 Million Oyster Initiative. With each acre supporting
approximately one million oysters, that will restore 50 million oysters
to the state’s coastal waters. And with each oyster capable of
filtering 50 gallons of water a day, those 50 million oysters will
filter 2.5 trillion gallons of water daily.
These projects also spur economic development and create habitat for
oysters and other commercially important fish, including red drum and
white, spotted and brown shrimp.
“The public-private partnership accelerated the state’s ability to
restore oyster reefs, while leveraging additional grant resources and
creating economic development opportunities by hiring North Carolina
contractors to do the work,” said Todd Miller, executive director of
the federation. “This model will continue with this year’s funding and
expand on these great efforts.”
The federation works to create oyster reefs throughout the coast,
educates the public about the importance of oysters and also took the
lead in developing a five-year blueprint for oyster restoration efforts
in the state, titled the Oyster Restoration and Protection Plan for North Carolina: A Blueprint for Action 2015-2020. The State of the Oyster: 2016 Progress Report outlines what was accomplished in 2016 and the work that needs to be done to meet the goals listed in the blueprint.
For more information, please contact Erin Fleckenstein at 252-393-8185 or [email protected], or visit ncoysters.org or nccoast.org/oysters.