Nearly $2 million dollars in state and federal funding will bolster oyster habitat at the mouth of the Neuse River.
The 25-acre Swan Island Oyster Sanctuary will expand to nearly 40 acres when construction gets underway next year, said Regional Manager and Coastal Scientist with the North Carolina Coastal Federation Erin Fleckenstein.
“We received $950,000 from a NOAA grant, and that’s going to be matched by state appropriations to construct additional acres at the Swan Island Sanctuary. We’re planning to construct about 10 acres of additional sanctuary at that site.”
Construction on the underwater oyster reef began in 2017, with the second phase of the project wrapping up in late June. The soon-to-be-built oyster reef will be built using granite from local quarries instead of marle limestone.
"Some science is showing that marle may be a little bit more porous and harbor some biofouling organisms. So the granite is a harder surface that is not as easy for those biofoulers to penetrate and therefore might allow these oyster sanctuarys to persist longer."
So far, 56 people from North Carolina have been employed to complete the first two phases of the project. The Swan Island Oyster Sanctuary is part of the federation’s 50 million Oyster Initiative which aims to have 50 million oysters in North Carolina waters by 2020.