Coastal federation more than doubles goal to raise over $60,000 for oyster shell recycling program

A new oyster shell collection trailer sits outside the N.C. Coastal Federation headquarters on Highway 24 in the Ocean community. (Rachel Bisesi photo)

NEWPORT — The N.C. Coastal Federation has met the goal, and then some, of its end-of-year fundraising effort for the organization’s Recycle for Reefs program.

The NCCF, a nonprofit based in Carteret County dedicated to protecting the coastal environment in North Carolina, received a $30,000 matching fundraising challenge from two anonymous donors in December, according to coastal education coordinator Rachel Bisesi. Ms. Bisesi said federation supporters across the nation “responded enthusiastically” to meet the challenge, “raising a total of over $60,000 to support the expansion of the Recycle for Reefs (program) in 2022.”

“We’re thrilled by this outpouring of support for the shell recycling program,” said NCCF development director Sarah King in a Wednesday email to the News-Times, “and look forward to being able to put more shells back into the ecosystem rather than into the landfill.”

This funding will go toward expanding the recycling program by adding 30 new locations where coastal residents and businesses may drop off oyster shells. The federation uses these shells to create oyster sills and to spread along water bottoms to encourage wild oyster growth.

“We’ve already started work to expand into neighboring counties and intend to establish more sites in Carteret County in the future,” Ms. Bisesi said. “Restaurants have been a wonderful partner (in the program), in addition to public shell recycling locations.”

The federation collects thousands of bushels of oyster shells through the recycling program every year. In 2021, the NCCF received 4,000 bushels total, and Ms. Bisesi said they’re “eager to increase that amount in 2022.”

“We recently installed a trailer for oyster shell recycling in front of our headquarters office in Ocean,” she said, referring to the community of Ocean on Highway 24, “and welcome anyone to drop off shells year-round.”

Ms. Bisesi went on to say the recycling program is important to the NCCF’s coastal environment restoration and protection efforts, providing material for living shorelines, oyster restoration and water quality projects.

“Baby oysters need a hard surface to grow on, and the recycle shells provide a preferred substrate for them to attach and grow,” she said. “One adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day, so once live oysters begin growing on the recycled shells, it promotes clean water and improves the quality of our estuaries. New and restored oyster reefs also reduce soundside erosion and provide important habitat for fish, crabs, shrimp and other marine life.”

More information on the NCCF oyster shell recycling program is available at the website

 Reporter's note: This article and headline were corrected at 3 p.m. Monday, Jan. 10, 2022. The original article said the coastal federation raised over twice its goal. This was inaccurate. 

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

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