An Integrated Analysis of Oyster Fisheries Managemenet in Pamlico Sound, North Carolina
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Conservative estimates for population levels of the Eastern Oyster, Crassostrea virginica, in North Carolina are around 10% of the levels estimated at the turn of the 20th century. Oyster reefs perform many functions including providing habitat for fish and other species, stabilizing sediment, and helping to improve water quality. The important, intertwined, and valuable functions that oysters perform are lost when their populations decline; therefore there is a growing movement in eastern North Carolina to restore native oyster populations. My master’s project evaluates different stakeholders’ beliefs about oyster stock status, factors affecting oyster population decline, restoration strategies, and current management strategies. My goal was to gain a broad understanding of the present and future needs for managing oyster stocks in the Pamlico Sound of North Carolina, and make recommendations regarding management and recovery efforts. I am interested in a multi-sector perspective, because understanding different stakeholders’ beliefs is important for designing and implementing successful management strategies. In order to do this, I conducted 16 interviews with key informants involved in the oyster fishery in Pamlico Sound. The participants were involved in state management, academic research, commercial fishing, aquaculture, and the non-profit sector. My results indicate that there is a range of opinions and beliefs regarding stock status, factors affecting oyster decline, restoration, and management strategies. Opinions on stock status and management strategies varied widely across and within sectors, as did opinions on the need for more accurate stock assessment. Restoration efforts were widely supported, and opinions on the need for more restoration varied depending on factors such as the type of restoration and the time frame for recovery. Based on my findings I recommend that the state of North Carolina map all oyster beds in the Pamlico Sound by use type. This will allow for more efficient allocation of resources, and will aid in the design of future sanctuary locations as larval sources for wild oyster populations and restoration projects.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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