Division of Marine Fisheries issues first new shellfish restoration permit to Carteret County grower

Several types of shellfish cages sit or float in the water Monday behind the N.C. State University Center for Marine Sciences and Technology in Morehead City. The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries has issued the first of a new kind of permit for shellfish restoration. (Mike Shutak photo) 

MOREHEAD CITY — The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries has received its first application for its new Shellfish Lease Restoration Permit and it’s from a shellfish grower in Carteret County.

The DMF began offering the new permit April 12, and April 14, UNC Institute of Marine Sciences professor of chemical ecology Dr. Niels Lindquist became the first to apply for the permit.

In addition to being a marine scientist at IMS in Morehead City, Dr. Lindquist is also one of the owners and operators of Sandbar Oyster Co. The News-Times reached out to Dr. Linqduist and David Cessna, his business partner, for comment, but neither were immediately available.  

According to a press release May 3 from the DMF, the permit makes it possible for shellfish lease holders to sell oysters and other shellfish to government agencies, environmental organizations and more for use on man-made oyster reefs, living shorelines and other restoration endeavors. The permit allows shellfish growers to transport oysters and other shellfish not meant for human consumption to these types of sites.

DMF habitat and enhancement section chief Jacob Boyd said in an email Monday since the permit was made available, they’ve issued one permit as of Monday, which was to a grower in Carteret County.

“We’ve had very positive responses from shellfish growers and other stakeholders, including environmentalists,” Mr. Boyd said. “The SLRP not only provides a new market for shellfish growers to be able to sell their product, but also provides another avenue for valuable material for restoration sites throughout North Carolina.”

Prior to the permit, this activity was prohibited. Mr. Boyd said in the May 3 release state officials are “committed to promoting the use of living shorelines and shellfish restoration efforts.”

One local environmental group is pleased with the division’s efforts to help growers and restoration projects. N.C. Coastal Federation Executive Director Todd Miller said in an email Monday this permit “provides new ways to obtain seed oysters that could enhance the productivity of shellfish management areas that are open for public use and harvest.”

“It was very responsive of the DMF to create the means by which shellfish farmers can help restore native oysters outside of their leases,” Mr. Miller said. “The state acted quickly to create this permit to help the industry and the environment; it opens up a new market for cultivated oysters that may help enhance native stocks.”

DMF staff review SLRP applications, which must include harvest, transportation and placement methods. Mr. Boyd said no fee is charged for the permit.

“The grower must provide proof of all required licenses and other state and/or federal permits covering the activity,” he said. “Depending on the completeness of the initial SLRP application, the estimated timeframe is approximately two weeks for turnaround.”

Historically, laws authorizing shellfish leases were written to govern the commercial production of seafood for human consumption. These laws did not provide for use of aquaculture-grown shellfish for other purposes, such as restoration. Additionally, state and federal shellfish sanitation requirements meant to protect public health made it challenging to use aquaculture-raised shellfish as such.

“There are many important state and federal requirements restricting the amount of time shellfish can be out of the water before they are refrigerated,” Mr. Boyd said. “These regulations are necessary for shellfish meant to be eaten, but not for use on a restoration site.”

The new permit makes it legal to transport shellfish from lease to restoration sites and exempts this activity from the sanitation rules, but the permit conditions were developed in a way to minimize the potential risk to public health, according to the DMF.

Shellfish growers must still abide by all sanitation rules and other requirements when the shellfish is on the lease. Additionally, shellfish transported under the permit may only go to restoration sites in waters closed to shellfish harvest.

DMF staff began working on the permit last spring when the coronavirus pandemic started to affect shellfish sales to seafood markets, restaurants and other venues. Staff began looking for new avenues for growers to recoup some of their losses.

“We worked with the stakeholders to create a product that is efficient and doesn’t create a huge burden for shellfish growers while maintaining important public health protections,” Mr. Boyd said.

He said discussions on the permit began in 2019, as part of the division’s effort to promote living shorelines and shellfish restoration.


Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email mike@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.

(16) comments


After reading this pointless agenda, i lost 10 IQ points. These 'bottom feeders' really are full of themselves , aren't they! [whistling]


Bottom feeders, Pointless agenda?

I don't understand what you are saying.


Great story but so what? Zero x zero still = zero.


I don't understand what you are saying. Please explain zero x zero.

David Collins

Perhaps the readers are a bit tired of government getting into everything . Sure , transporting tainted shellfish to clean sites sounds good . As long as a side trip to the fish house is not included . It happens , tags or no tags . Sadly the mortality rate of transplanted oysters clams or whatever is rather high . They appear to like the stew they are simmering in . Just the way things work in life .


David Collins, First of all, these shellfish are not tainted. They must come from clean waters that must be open to shellfishing... Second point, The shellfish go into a closed area, or restoration site where they are not to be consumed... Thirdly, our mortality rate is very low, and only slightly higher than our normal farm mortality. Actually less than 5%... And, if we wanted to carry them to the fish house, we would just carry them there under normal operating standards. There is nothing to hide here. We are taking product off our farms, and moving them to areas that are in dire need of help...


Beyond HS, is exactly when TAXES start rearing their head there slick. However, for the lot of ya that simply love the stockholm thing, sit back and read the title. Really READ it ALOUD. Now, think to yourself, where else in the WORLD does this happen? Its complete useless garbage. Its not normal for a government to control your sea creatures , or your family, or your health, or your job, or your children, or the road out front, etc, etc. It does not surprise me that a huge majority fall into this idea that it's normal though, given the fact that the same folks just SCAMED AMERICA, and you out of minds. Folded like a cheap suit on this one. These fish Dr's really need to find another target , after 3 decades. Take their laws with them too. Its a ruse. A complete con job to think anyone cares about a fish enough to wear a gun and potentially do harm to someone with the full power of the state , courts and all over timmy the tuna. [yawn]


The title does say a lot... DMF has provided a way to make doing something good a legal process where none was before... This happens a lot of places, so that argument is out the window... What you call useless garbage equals jobs, environmental enhancement, and social progression through awareness. Some people don't even know this type of thing is possible, much less the benefits of it... If there was no government involvement, people would be dyeing from food poisonings in every area of consumables... Most fish Dr.'s work hard to understand and correct abuses from generations past, and prevent them in the future as well... Funny that I have worked on the water for 56 years, and never had a Clam Cop pull a gun on me. Maybe it has something to do with how I treat them... In the end, every person that comes to the coast, and many that do not, have an impact on the coastal environment, and helping to correct some of the issues that arise gives me pleasure. Maybe that's why I'm so happy all the time...


Legal process?????????????? Your a stretch out there, DMF...... Yea, ok, well here is the rub there clamman, Thousands of years of humans have survived without this ignorant group of interlopers. (I'm sure if they leave, noone will miss them). Also, your saying doing something good??????? Like feeding family's , which is what people did long before you and me, without a body to tell them if they should feed their family.

JOBS???? Seriously?????/ you mean STATE JOBS, the ones where your rule book, MADE UP FROM SCRATCH, AND CHANGING WEEKLY, AS DEMONSTRATED IN THIS PAPER , IS THE BOSS OF PEOPLES LIVES, and these so called jobs last for beyond time??????????? Right, these jobs are GARBAGE, and TAXPAYERS FOOT THE BILL, until, they get tired and run them off.

ps... there's that ever present word you lot like.... 'SOCIAL PROGRESS'!!!!!!!111hahaahahahahahha Really, what a joke. Hundreds of thousands of FAMILY'S IN THIS STATE SHOULD NOT HAVE TO GET A STATE DOCUMENT FOR MONEY , THAT ALLOWS THEM TO GET A HOOK WET THERE FELLA. (wow, you have lost a nut)

Awareness????????? Of what, food poison, lol, really, you are kidding? You don't really even know where your local BEEF comes from do you?????????? Stop lying.

Most fish Dr's are not enforcement agents, so, your comment dies there.

No, everyone in the State does not have anything to do with the coast, nor an interest in it, and until about 30 years ago, neither did the Government!

Sorry , you turned there clam. FACT......... Take their money, yea, it is a hard life but, it was a freedom you will never get back. Why ruin it for the rest.

Run these idiots off!


... Apparently they are against anything the government is involved in, but completely acceptable to packing ditdots in-ten to fifteen housing units per acre.....

(Edited by staff.)


Speaking of "clam cops" they arrest ppl for taking shellfish from polluted waters, on a fairly regular basis. We should all be thankful that they do.


drewski, Yes, we should. Otherwise a few bad players could cause someone to get sick, or die, plus ruin the market for everyone...

David Collins

Sure , the good guys try to do things like they should . Sadly , with the prices for shellfish spiraling upward temptation rears it’s ugly head . Always does . Can remember a few years back , guys were harvesting a pretty good load of clams from around a local marina . Pretty thick amongst the pilings and such . Yeah , it was a closed area supposedly polluted by gas , oil , boat bottom paint and other such things . The clams must have loved it because it did not take long to get their allowed 5 bags . As folks started showing up off they went only to return a few days later . Those clams went somewhere, that is for sure . So , it happens and that is why we need good fish cops .

The life of a fish cop is not a bed of roses . Convoluted regulations , judgment calls and political interference from Raleigh add to the frustration factor . Even a bit of violence thrown into the mix occasionally . Usually alcohol fueled .


You do realize that you were witnessing a shellfish relocation program in action? They obviously were working by permit if they were only allowed five bags! This is common around several commercial sites in our area. I imagine it is the Town Creek area of Beaufort that you are referring to....


David Collins, quicksand, I don't know of any program that has a 5 bag limit, but there are reasons a person can legally take shellfish from a closed area to put on their lease to purge toxins. It is a common practice, and very heavily observed to ensure public safety...

While some people only see the government as an intrusion into their rights, they seem to forget how sinister humans can be, and sometimes people need observing, and correcting. This is where Marine Patrol comes in. They operate under a mandate established by NC Statute. Someone would stand a very good chance of not getting a ticket if they didn't break the law... The SLRP permit demonstrates that there are ways to improve the system in a manner that allows leases to be used to enhance the environment... Doing this opens a door for people to work as well. This is a winner for everyone.


Hands downs, the authority on this subject is clammerhead. He lives this business and has extensive knowledge concerning all the information on the subject. Trying to spin this topic to suit an anti government agenda is well, dead in the water.

Welcome to the discussion.

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