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NORTH CAROLINA’S OYSTER SANCTUARY PROGRAM

Sanctuaries are created by building reefs on previously viable oyster producing sites. Reefs are constructed with a combination of natural oyster shell and/or Class B rip-rap marl. These reefs attract native oyster larvae, as well as clams, juvenile finfish, crabs and marine organ- isms, which in turn attract larger fish, enhancing hook-and-line fishing. Harvest of oysters and the use of bottom disturbing gear are prohibited in the sanctuaries, allowing a brood stock of oysters to develop.

Each oyster produces millions of eggs annually that are carried by currents and tides to surrounding areas. By developing and protecting a brood stock, the availability of robust native oysters in adjacent waters increases. Because bottom disturbing gear is prohibited on sanctuaries, the Division of Marine Fisheries seeks input on the best area to locate a site to minimize interactions with trawls, while maximizing the benefits of the site to oystermen and recreational fishermen. Currently, there are nine existing oyster sanctuaries located in estua- rine waters from Dare to Carteret counties, and two in the planning stages.

OYSTER SANCTUARY The typical sanctuary consists of mounds of rip rap, with each mound containing about 150 tons of material.

7-foot clearance

6-foot mounds of rip rap

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