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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - Building Oyster Reefs

Marine Fisheries

Loading shells on truck

Cultch planting
fishing on oyster reefOyster Shell Recyling Homepage

For more information contact:
North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries
P.O. Box 769
Morehead City, NC 28557
800-682-2632 or
252-726-7021

Building Oyster Reefs

Most of the recycled shells are used in annual cultch planting. The shells are loaded onto barges and sprayed off with a high-pressure water hose to create reefs. These sites are located in brackish to salty coastal waters. Shells make great homes for oysters. A single oyster produces millions of eggs annually that are carried by currents and tides to surrounding areas, enhancing oyster production in adjacent waters. Once the shells are placed on a reef they begin to attract baby oysters. Oysters grow to harvesting size in 2 to 3 years.

One individual may not be able to create a sizable reef, but by pooling our shell resources, researchers and scientists can construct large reefs in prime oyster growing areas enhancing oyster productivity and providing hook and line fishing opportunities for the public.

Estuarine Species Attracted to Oyster Reefs:

Barnacles

 Pinfish

Black Sea Bass

 Pigfish

Black Drum

 Red Drum

Blennies

 Sea Mullet

Bryozoans

 Sheepshead

Crabs

 Shrimp

Croaker

 Spadefish

Flounder

 Speckled Trout

Gag Grouper

 Spot

Gray Trout

 Striped Bass

Mussels

 Turtles

Oyster Toadfish

 Tunicates

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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