|Coastal Carolina Riverwatch and the Industry Working Group (made up of commercial and recreational fisheries representatives) have identified Industrial Agriculture and Factory Farming pollution as one of the top five water quality concerns that impact coastal NC fisheries.
In the last three decades, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (factory farms) became a large component of the state’s agricultural industry. North Carolina went from the 7th to the 2nd greatest swine-producing state in a matter of 5 years during the 1980s.
The excess nutrients, from these facilities, cause eutrophication, habitat destruction, and algal blooms that block sunlight from reaching aquatic vegetation. Algal blooms may contain toxic microorganisms such as a Pfiesteria which has contributed to public health issues and fish being plagued with large sores. These factors have caused massive fish kills in freshwater including species such as minnows, gar, largemouth bass, striped bass, and flounder.
CAFO runoff can also lead to the presence of fecal bacteria or pathogens in surface water. Fecal bacterial pathogens that can cause human health problems and may lead to shellfish collection restrictions.
READ MORE about CAFO impacts to water quality and what coastal fishing communities have prioritized as solutions.