North Carolina sees big returns with coastal habitat programs

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – Results of a study conducted by RTI International show that coastal habitat enhancement programs managed by the state fisheries agency provide $4 in benefits for every $1 invested in the coastal region.

As part of a contract for the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership, RTI researchers studied the benefits and costs of three programs under the state Division of Marine Fisheries: the Shellfish Rehabilitation Program, Oyster Sanctuary Program and Artificial Reef Program. The study focused on how these programs benefit and contribute to communities in the region. 

According to the report, the programs generate economic benefits in numerous categories. Between 2010 and 2015, with just over $20 million in government and private investments, North Carolina restoration and habitat enhancement activ­ities supported more than 500 acres of habitat and provided benefits that included commercial fishing, shellfish harvesting, recreational fishing, water quality improvement and shoreline stabilization.

According to the findings, the cost-benefit analysis showed returns that ranged from $2 to more than $12 for every dollar invested.

Over that same time period, increases in commercial fishing alone supported 696 jobs, generated $32 million in revenue to North Carolina businesses and added $13 million to household income.

Previous studies also show that grant funding of just over $5 million for coastal restoration in oyster sanctuary sites created more than 50 jobs, generated $7.9 million in revenue to North Carolina businesses and added $1.9 million to household income.

The complete report, Economic Analysis of the Costs and Benefits of Restoration and Enhancement of Shellfish Habitat and Oyster Propagation in North Carolinais available here.

The Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership is a cooperative effort jointly hosted by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality under a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The program area extends across most of the Albemarle-Pamlico watershed, including the Neuse, Tar-Pamlico, Pasquotank, Chowan, lower Roanoke and parts of the White Oak river basins. Learn more about the partnership at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/apnep/home.

Learn more about the Shellfish Rehabilitation and Oyster Sanctuary programs at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/dmf-shellfish-and-crustaceans. Artificial reef sites information can be found at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/artificial-reefs-program.

Highlights

  • A study conducted by RTI International found coastal habitat enhancement programs managed by the state fisheries agency provide $4 in benefits for every $1 invested in the coastal region
  • The report showed that programs under the state Division of Marine Fisheries generate economic benefits in numerous categories