Month: January 2023

Growing Oyster Industry in NC

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Growing Oyster Industry in NC

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Image: RYAN BETHEA, CCRW board member and owner/operator of Oysters Carolina.
Oysters in coastal North Carolina

Going into 2022, the oyster industry in North Carolina looked promising. Based on NCDEQ reports, oyster harvest numbers were at an all time high in 2021, with 232,016 bushels being collected by commercial fishers that year, and harvests seems to be continually growing. However, those who have oyster farms know the statewide trends aren’t always representative of individual farms and see first hand how variable harvest numbers can be year to year.

The summer of 2022 was hard for oyster farmers. Shellfish growers throughout coastal NC experienced multiple die-off events that spanned from southern Onslow through northern Carteret Counties. Farmed oysters seemed to be more impacted than wild populations and some sites lost up to 90% of their oysters.

What was unique about this year, is the geographic scope — and that across a large area, mortality events within individual estuaries all seemed to happen at the same time.” – Dr. Tal Ben-Horin, North Carolina State University Center for Marine Sciences and Technology’s Shellfish Pathology Laboratory

The heat and salinity in the summer seasons usually leads to some oyster mortality, but 2022 was more hot and dry than usual. The drought conditions being felt throughout the state led to less rain and higher salt levels in coastal waters. Oysters are sensitive to their environment. Water temperature, clarity and salinity, as well as pathogens and algae are some of the factors that can influence an oysters survivability and, in many places, waters can be stressed by multiple of these different factors that cause poor water quality. Because there are so many factors that influence oyster health, it can be difficult to identify what exactly causes a mortality event.

In September of 2022, CCRW responded to an algae bloom in the New River that could be seen from Stones Bay all the way down to Chadwicks Bay. This species hadn’t been seen before in this area but was known to harm shellfish in the Chesapeake Bay. Many shellfish farmers came to us reporting die-offs but even after investigating and working with research labs, we were unable to definitively know how this bloom impacted local oyster populations.

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Image: CHARLES DUNCAN, Spectrum News 1. Raw, smoked or fried? The oyster industry is growing in North Carolina.
Oysters and other shellfish are a key part of our coastal ecosystem. They are incredible at filtering water and helping create an environment for other creatures to live in. They are also very important for stabilizing shorelines and improving clarity by settling particles out of the water column.

Many coastal areas are working to recover oyster populations and ensure healthy numbers so that industry and water quality can be supported in the future. The City of Jacksonville has been leading the Oyster Highway Project for over a decade and is continuing to expand reefs throughout the River.

CCRW helps to protect oyster populations and safe harvesting through boots on the ground water quality monitoring, investigations of pollution events, and reporting health concerns to the public and local authorities.

SAVE THE DATE:

CCRW Oyster Roast “Fun”draiser – Coming Soon!

This water quality “Shell”ebration is hosted by our friends and water quality advocates at Backstreet Pub in Beaufort NC.

This donation based event will take place on Sunday, January 22nd and starting at 3pm.

Come for live music, steamed local oysters, and hear from the Waterkeeper, Riley Lewis, about how our community works collaboratively to protect the quality of water and quality of life.

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For more info about local water quality information, please contact:

Waterkeeper

Report a Water Quality Concern
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A recent Bird Flu is impacting our local wildlife. There have been recent reports of dead birds in the Sneads Ferry / Topsail area.

Please DO NOT TOUCH!

If you find significant numbers of dead birds, you should report the finding to either NCDA&CS or NC Wildlife Resources Commission. NC Wildlife Helpline at 866-318-2401, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., or email HWI@ncwildlife.org, or call USDA at 866-536-7593.

Please consider being a part of the Waterkeeper Admiral Club with your sustaining donation of $1,000 or more.

Your donation goes directly to programming that protects the quality of water and quality of life in coastal North Carolina.

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“Forever Chemicals” Research in Coastal NC Waters

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“Forever Chemicals” Research in Coastal NC Waters

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as “PFAS” are a group of chemicals that are used in non-stick cookware, stain repellent, waterproof coatings, and many other manufacturing processes. PFAS have been in use since the 1940s and there are thousands of types of PFAS, according to the USEPA.

These “forever chemicals” accumulate in people, wildlife, and the environment. PFAS have been found in surface water, air, soil, food, and many commercial materials. PFAS are widely linked to serious health conditions such as cancer, liver and kidney disease, reproductive issues, immunodeficiencies, and hormonal disruptions.

Known PFAS sources include:

  • Soil and Water at, near, and downstream of Disposal Sites (Landfills)
  • Facilities that use Fire Fighting Foam (Airports, Shipyards, Municipal Fire Training Facilities, Military Bases, Refineries and Chemical Plants)
  • PFAS Manufacturing Facilities
  • Food Contaminated by PFAS (Fish, Livestock,)
  • Food Packaging
  • Household Products
  • Dust
  • Personal Care Products
  • Biosolids from Wastewater Treatment Plants
  • Drinking Water and Surface Waters

SOURCE: USEPA, 2022, epa.gov/pfas

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PHOTO: Riley Lewis, White Oak Waterkeeper collecting surface water downstream of the Onslow County Landfill, RIDER 2022
Coastal Carolina Riverwatch is participating in a statewide PFAS study in surface waters downstream of potential PFAS sources.

CCRW has taken the following downstream surface water samples:

  • New River Marine Air Station on the SW Creek
  • Bogue Sound by the Marine Landing Field
  • Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) outfall off Taylors creek in Beaufort
  • Newport River downstream of the Newport WWTP outfall
  • Blue Creek in Jacksonville, downstream of the Onslow Landfill

These samples will be analyzed by Cyclopure and sent to CCRW for a comprehensive report on contamination in NC. The data will be used to inform communities of potential contamination and exposure and can be used to pursue PFAS regulations in NC.

It’s really important to be testing for these chemicals all around the White Oak River Basin. We need to get a better idea of how widespread PFAS contamination is and make sure communities aren’t being heavily impacted. So much is unknown about the true danger of these chemicals and serious work needs to be done to keep them out of our environment.” – Riley Lewis, White Oak Waterkeeper.

To learn more and follow this and other PFAS research, Click Here.

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PHOTO: Lisa Rider, ED, collecting surface water downstream of Bogue Air Field, W.RIDER 2022
Despite serious health risks, there are currently no universal, science-based limits on the various PFAS chemicals in the United States.

For many PFAS chemicals, the EPA has not even set a health advisory limit that would give the public a baseline to determine what amount of PFAS is unhealthy in drinking water. In most cases, the EPA is not doing adequate monitoring for these chemicals, which is why these findings are so unique and important.

Your support can help turn PFAS legislation into a reality. Contact your Members of Congress today in support of this urgently needed legislation.

Want to support additional PFAS sampling in coastal NC, collaborative community-based advocacy and outreach efforts? Click to donate today.

Report a Water Quality Concern
For more info about local water quality information, please contact:

Riley Lewis, White Oak Waterkeeper

RileyL

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A recent Bird Flu is impacting our local wildlife. There have been recent reports of dead birds in the Sneads Ferry / Topsail area.

Please DO NOT TOUCH!

If you find significant numbers of dead birds, you should report the finding to either NCDA&CS or NC Wildlife Resources Commission. NC Wildlife Helpline at 866-318-2401, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., or email HWI@ncwildlife.org, or call USDA at 866-536-7593.

Need a new years resolution?

Make the resolution to become a water quality advocate and consider donating to the cause!

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Become a Business Member Today!
Please consider being a part of the Waterkeeper Admiral Club with your sustaining donation of $1,000 or more.

Your donation goes directly to programming that protects the quality of water and quality of life in coastal North Carolina.

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Coastal Carolina Riverwatch

www.coastalcarolinariverwatch.org

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