New research shows that wild harvests have declined and cultivated oysters now represent over half of the total economic impact of shellfish in the state.
The shellfish industry provides more than $27 million in economic impact and 532 jobs in North Carolina. Until 2016, the state shellfish industry’s economic impact primarily came from the harvest of wild oysters and clams. New research shows that as of 2019, farmed oysters contributed more than $14 million to state gross domestic product and 271 jobs.
The research was published by Eric Edwards of North Carolina State University’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
“The goal of the research was to better understand the economic impact of North Carolina’s seafood industry,” said Jane Harrison, North Carolina Sea Grant’s coastal economics specialist and a project lead, in a release from Sea Grant. “The shellfish results indicate the strength of the growing aquaculture sector.”
Supply and demand of farmed oysters has increased exponentially in the state over the past five years.
“Restaurants that once only served out-of-state shellfish now proudly advertise multiple N.C. oyster varieties,” Harrison said.
The findings are from a collaborative project led by North Carolina Sea Grant in partnership with researchers at N.C. State, Appalachian State University, Duke University and the University of North Carolina Wilmington. The work was funded by the North Carolina Commercial Fishing Resource Fund Grant Program.
For state seafood economic research highlights, as well as formal reports and methodology, visit go.ncsu.edu/NCSeafoodDemand.