Today we highlight two oyster stories from the North Carolina Coastal Federation. As many people know, the NC Coastal Federation, “since its grassroots formation in 1982, is [NC’s] only 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that focuses exclusively on protecting and restoring the coast of North Carolina through education, advocacy and habitat preservation and restoration.” (www.nccoast.org) We want to highlight two particular oyster-related stories relating to that we are proud to associate with.
We are in the works of getting involved with the Oyster Relocation in the Cape Fear River project (see NC CF’s news article here). As pointed out, “oysters were once plentiful in the lower Cape Fear River. They formed extensive reefs and lined the marshy shoreline of this dynamic river. Major alterations to the Cape Fear River in the last century resulted in a severe decline in the oyster population…The project partners kicked off the effort with a Living Shoreline project along the park’s river shoreline to protect the salt marsh and provide habitat for oysters and the associated reef dwelling organisms. This is just the start of the effort to bring these waters back to their original state, helping not only the river, but the economy as well.” We are looking forward to volunteering and updating on this important project here in Wilmington.
We are also proud to be associated with NC Coastal Federation’s Pelican Award Winners, Jim and Bonnie Swartzenberg who for “more than 20 years were champions of clean water and the oysters that depend on it….the Swartzenbergs helped introduce oyster aquaculture – growing oysters in floating cages – to North Carolina. The Swartzenbergs used shell bags, a culturing method where oyster shells and limestone marl are packed into mesh bags used to build new oyster reef. “You couldn’t rely on mother nature,” he said. “You had to manipulate it somehow. There’s something different about that [Stump] sound from what it was 30 years ago. Now it’s really hard even to grow aquaculture oysters.”
In December of 2014, they closed J&B Aquafood and sold a majority of their leases to a Wilmington-based seafood company: Seaview Crab Company! We make weekly trips out to the oyster lease in the Stump Sound — come and try out these infamous cultured oysters that have an important history and role.