skip to main content | skip to footer
North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - Shellfish Rehabilitation

Marine Fisheries

cultch planting
Artificial Reefs Oyster Shell
Recycling
Oyster Sanctuaries Shellfish
Rehabilitation

N.C. Shellfish Rehabilitation

Oyster reefs are planted by DMF in select places. DMF works with fishermen to find appropriate areas to plant cultch. Areas chosen are often easy for fishermen to access and work on the reefs and meet important biologic and logistical criteria. For example a chosen planting site should be in the proper salinity for oysters to live and the bottom must be able to support the weight of the reef.

  • What is cultch planting and shellfish rehabilitation?
  • What materials are used?
  • Where are the plantings?

Materials

Materials used to construct the reefs must serve the main purpose of allowing a healthy population of oysters to settle and grow on it. Ideally reefs would be constructed out of oyster shell, however due to fluctuating availability of oyster shells other materials are often used in their place. Limestone marl rip-rap, and concrete structures such as manhole sections, culverts, old bridges and crushed concrete work well to attract baby oysters.

Harvesting Oysters

Cultch planted sites are open to oyster harvest when the oysters on them become legal size. Generally this occurs three years after they are planted.

Beyond Oysters

Because oyster reefs are habitat for a large number of species other than oysters, the benefit of planting cultch goes beyond a few harvests of oysters. Oyster reefs attract many sportfish like flounder and sheepshead while serving as nursery areas for gag grouper and black sea bass. Additionally oyster reefs improve water quality because oysters are filter feeders and remove many nutrients from the water column. Oyster reefs have also been shown to help stabilize shorelines and protect against erosion by slowing wave energy and trapping sediment.

Long-Term Benefits

These benefits derived from the creation of oyster reefs do not disappear after the first harvest of oysters either; reefs planted over 30 years prior still are active habitat and fishermen report that oysters can still be harvested from these older reefs.
Web Content Display Web Content Display
N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

NC logo

38337 FEEDBACK

Your input is valuable to us. Please send us your feedback.

What type of feedback would you like to send?*

Ask a Question Report a Problem Have a Concern Make a Comment

(If you would like us to respond please include your phone or e-mail.)

Your Question has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

Your Problem has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

Your Concern has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

Your Comment has been sent. Thank you!

An internal server error prevented Your Question from being sent.
Please try again later, or call Toll-Free (877) 623-6748 for immediate assistance.

Please complete all highlighted items

*If you are a DENR employee with an I.T. issue, please submit a DOTS ticket.