Oysters are bivalve mollusks that can live up to 40 years and grow up to eight inches; however, most NC oysters are harvested at three years of age, at the minimum harvest size of three inches. In the early stages of an oyster’s life, it is carried about by currents. As it matures, the oyster sinks to the bottom. To survive, the oyster must land on a hard surface. That is why they are found growing together in clumps or rocks.
The status of the oyster fishery in NC is "Concern". Increased fishing pressure and stock declines caused by diseases, poor water quality and habitat loss, have led to the collapse of this once prosperous fishery.
Oysters are harvested from October to March with tongs, rakes, or by hand, in intertidal areas and shallow water along coastal NC. They are also caught by dredges in parts of the Pamlico Sound.
For more information on Stock Status and what it means for shellfish and other fisheries in North Caroline, view the annual Stock Status Report.
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