N.C. Aquaculture: Shellfish Lease and Franchise Program
The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries administers the Shellfish Lease and Franchise Program for the purposes of shellfish cultivation, aquaculture and mariculture within the State of North Carolina. The State of North Carolina has provided for the private use of public trust waters for the production of shellfish by the cultivation of unproductive bottom by allowing this bottom to be leased to residents of North Carolina since 1858. As of February 2014 there were 172 shellfish leases encompassing 1179 acres and 50 shellfish franchises encompassing 516 acres of estuarine bottom in coastal North Carolina. Fourteen shellfish water column operations existed within 37 acres of leased or franchised bottom.
Polluted Area Relay Permit (~April 1-May 15/subject to proclamation)
Provides the opportunity to relay of clams and oyster out of specific polluted areas to leases with Marine Patrol coordination. Leaseholders receive permit application in March. Maps, signs and permits are send to applicants by end of March. The lease will remain closed for harvest to allow for depuration until reopened by proclamation (~6 weeks). A transplant report required to DMF after relay period, no future relay permits will be issued if transplant report is not received
Provides the opportunity to relay oysters out of SOMAs to shellfish leases year round. Restricted to 100/bushels per acre of shellfish lease, not to exceed 1000 bushels per lease. A SOMA transplant report required to DMF by December 31.
Provides opportunity to use mechanical methods on shellfish leases not located within a primary nursery area. Annual reviewable permit (July 1-June 30). Permit applications may take up to two weeks to review. Leaseholders are able to submit application for permit at any time during the year.
North Carolina Fisheries Rules for Coastal Waters 2005: 15A NCAC 3O .0503 (f) (1) In is unlawful to conduct aquaculture operations without first securing an Aquaculture Operation Permit from the Fisheries Director. Aquaculture Operation: Any operation that produces artificially propagated stocks of marine or estuarine resources or obtains such stocks from authorized sources for the purpose of rearing in a controlled environment. A controlled environment provides and maintains throughout the rearing process one or more of the following: predator protection, food, water circulation, salinity, or temperature controls utilizing technology not found in the natural environment. Annual permit.
Seed Oyster Management Area (SOMA) maps and description (15A NCAC 03R .0116 – DESIGNATED SEED OYSTER MANAGEMENT AREAS)