North Carolina’s oyster aquaculture industry is growing to serve local businesses. Photo credit: Vanda Lewis
The North Carolina oyster industry is a major economic resource for the state with an estimated value of $4.54 million for wild oyster harvest and a farm-gate value of $450,000 for aquacultured oysters. North Carolina Sea Grant and partners lead efforts to share the economic and environmental benefits of shellfish, which include improved water quality and habitat.
A major hurdle for oyster aquaculture and reef restoration alike is the carbonate-boring sponge that limits reef growth. One Sea Grant research team — a university scientist and a local fisherman — combined their knowledge and talents to develop a biodegradable substrate that promotes oyster growth while limiting sponges and other oyster enemies. The team’s new business is drawing international attention for its sustainable technology and fast-growing oysters.