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How are we doing? – Shellfish beds spoiled

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(Editor’s note: The N.C. Progress Board, a group created by state lawmakers to track trends in North Carolina and set goals for the state, issued its first report in December 2001.

(Each week, the Philanthropy Journal spotlights an issue examined in the report. The goals, targets and analysis below are those of the Progress Board.)

GOAL: North Carolina ensures healthy and productive natural resources.

North Carolina’s valuable shellfish and marine fish stock, forests and wetlands are affected by air and water quality. 

Shellfish and marine fish are renewable, but only if the environment supports their sustainability.

Forests and wetlands, once destroyed, require planning and many decades to restore.

We need to protect the ability of all our natural resources to regenerate themselves and remain diverse and productive.

TARGETS: 100 percent of the current open shellfish acreage will remain open for harvesting by 2020.

The percentage of shellfish acreage open for harvesting is an important indicator of the level of pollution in coastal waters.

Of the 2.3 million acres of coastal waters in North Carolina, 1.4 million acres have environmental characteristics suitable for commercial shellfish production.

MEASURES:

Percent of current open shellfish acreage open for harvesting in 2020.

Roughly 3.9 percent of the acres suitable for shellfish production, or 56,191 acres, are closed to shellfish harvesting. 

Between 1985 and 1999, there was a net decrease of 4,787 acres, as reported by the Division of Marine Fisheries.

The reasons:  More than 90 percent of shellfish acreage closings are attributed to stormwater runoff.

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