Citizens' Oyster Gardening Program
Albemarle - Pamlico National Estuary Program Logo

What We Do

The Citizens' Oyster Gardening Project (COGP) is an environmental demonstration project funded by the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico River Councils of the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program (APNEP). Oyster gardening is a novel way for citizens to grow oysters as an educational or recreational activity. Virginia and Maryland boast citizens oyster gardening efforts that number into the thousands and which produce tens of thousands of bushels of oysters annually. The North Carolina project aims to use educational and aquacultural methods and an active citizens' network of oyster gardeners to reestablish populations of native oysters in North Carolina. This is to be accomplished through a series of educational workshops and an aquaculture head-start program. First, interested individuals are taught how to measure water quality and given information on oyster gardening techniques. Second, these people are given the tools and materials to introduce oysters into estuaries and creeks in their areas. Third, they are encouraged to network with other folks to increase oyster gardening efforts and to promote an awareness of the importance of oysters to our estuaries.

Please let us know if you would like to participate in this worthwhile project.

Project News


The Oyster Gardening Quiz is now up and running. After reviewing the training material you can take the quiz or go directly to the quiz at:
Another upcoming feature of the website is online data entry. We are working to develop an interactive data collection page so you can directly enter the salinity, temperature, secchi visibility, and spat numbers for your location according to the date. Then the results can be viewed on a separate webpage. We’ll send an announcement when that feature is running.

The main focus of this website is to provide a source of training and education about citizens’ oyster gardening in North Carolina and to facilitate interaction among interested gardeners.


After consulting with attendees of the first workshop series we decided to wait on the next workshops until we actually have the oysters in hand. Then we’ll be able to do the training and send the oysters home with you. Contact your local SGNC chapter for information on workshops or send me your email address and I’ll notify you when the workshops are to be held.


The CCC aquaculture facility renovation received a certificate of occupancy on January 27th. But there was still work to do before we could set up the oyster hatchery. We have algae cultures up and are working on the broodstock conditioning and holding room, which should be running by this weekend. You are welcome to drop in for a visit and tour, please give me a call to make sure we’re here and not in class or out on a field trip (Skip Kemp 252-222-6114).

Project Partners

Carteret Community College

CCC Aquaculture Department and Oyster Hatchery

Carteret Community College's Aquaculture Technology Department is the
lead partner for the Citizens' Oyster Gardening Program funded by APNEP.
The CCC Aquaculture Department maintains the only North Carolina oyster
hatchery as a function of the teaching and training aspects of the
department. Our goal is to provide eyed-larvae to oyster gardeners and
oyster restoration projects in order to jump-start the restoration of
oysters to NC waters. CCC also offers a full 2-year curriculum that is
centered on saltwater aquaculture and applied marine biology.

Albemarle - Pamlico National Estuary Logo

APNEP Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program

The Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program (APNEP) was established
in 1987 as a program under the US EPA. APNEP's mission is to identify,
restore, and protect the significant resources of the Albemarle-Pamlico
estuarine system. As a part of that mission APNEP funded several
demonstration projects that have potential to improve estuaries and
educate citizens about our estuaries. The Citizens' Oyster Gardening
Program was funded by the Tar-Pamlico and Neuse River Councils as an
appropriate demonstration project for that mission.

Shellfish Gardeners of NC Oysters Clean Water Logo

SGNC Shellfish Gardeners of North Carolina

The Shellfish Gardeners of North Carolina, the leading grass-roots
action partner, was established by a group of citizens who are
interested in growing oysters as a recreational and environmental
activity. The SGNC has been instrumental in introducing the concept of
shellfish gardening to the NC Division of Marine Fisheries and the NC
Marine Fisheries Commission and in requesting appropriate permissions
and authority to proceed with legal means of oyster gardening. The SGNC
is organized into localized Chapters to enhance networking and
information transfer for various water bodies and geographical areas of
the state.

North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve Logo

NCNERR North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve

The North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve (NCNERR) is a
part of the the North Carolina Coastal Reserve Program which and
managed by NCDCM to protect unique coastal sites. The program also
partners with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under
the Coastal Zone Management Act. NCNERR is an educational partner in
the Citizens' Oyster Gardening Program helping teach gardeners about the
quality of water in estuaries and what effects that water quality.

The North Carolina Coastal Federation Logo

NCCF The North Carolina Coastal Federation

The North Carolina Coastal Federation (NCCF) is an action partner in the
Citizens' Oyster Gardening Program to help restore oyster beds and
oyster habitat to many areas of North Carolina. NCCF mission statement
is "Citizens Working Together for a Healthy Coast" , the organization
seeks to provide citizens and groups with the assistance needed to take
an active role in the wise management of North Carolina's coastal water
quality and natural resources. The NCCF will use available eyed-larvae
produced by the CCC oyster hatchery to seed cultch before planting it to
restore oyster beds.

The Nature Conservancy - Nags Head Woods Preserve

TNC The Nature Conservancy- Nags Head Woods Preserve

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is an action partner in the Citizens'
Oyster Gardening Program to help restore oyster beds and oyster habitat
to many areas of North Carolina. TNC mission is to preserve the plants,
animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on
Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. The
Nature Conservancy helps collect broodstock for spawning and will use
available eyed-larvae produced by the CCC oyster hatchery to seed its
oyster sanctuary cultch plantings.

Sea Grant Logo

NCSG North Carolina Sea Grant

The NC Sea Grant Program is an action partner in the Citizens' Oyster
Gardening Program and was instrumental in developing and demonstrating
the feasibility of oyster hatcheries for North Carolina. North Carolina
Sea Grant links university researchers to the people, businesses and
governments that manage, use and enjoy coastal and marine resources. Sea
Grant will work with NC Marine Fisheries Commission to develop and
implement training and educational programs for a new oyster gardening
permit recently authorized by the NC General Assembly.

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources Logo

NCDMF North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries

The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) is responsible for
the stewardship of the state's marine and estuarine resources. NCDMF
enforces and promulgates regulations regarding the handling, harvesting
and possession of oysters. The Division will develop rules to administer
the new oyster gardening permit recently authorized by the NC General

Rachel planting cultch




Carteret Community College
3505 Arendell Street - Morehead City, NC 28557 - 252-222-6000
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