Coastal Federation Gets Grant For Harkers Island Cleanup

Jul 27, 2017

The North Carolina Coastal Federation has received a federal grant to clean up debris from an abandoned clam growing operation off Harkers Island.

Old cages, nets and plastic from an abandoned clam-growing operation keeps shaking loose during storms and washing up on Harkers Island, according to researcher Bree Tillett, of the North Carolina Coastal Federation.

“Plastic mesh that's used to keep the clams in, there's sandbags that [were] used to keep that mesh on the bottom, and also PVC pipe that kind of marks the aquaculture site,” Tillett said.

The debris is an eyesore, and it's dangerous to marine life, Tillett said. The $129,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association will go toward removing that debris, as well as developing best practices for future shellfish growers. The new federal grant has two goals, Tillett said.

“First, it's getting the debris out of the water, which the residents would like. It's an eyesore. It's hazardous for them using the waters and it's a hazard for marine life,” Tillett said. “But we're also going to be creating best management practices for the aquaculture industry so that this kind of debris doesn't end up in our water in the future.”

Tillett said the federation will monitor fish habitat before and after clean up in hopes of restoring the area for future shellfish operations.