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Decision-Support Tool for Shellfish Aquaculture Siting in a Coastal Reserve

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North Carolina has had a small but stable shellfish aquaculture industry for over thirty years. Now, regulatory changes are creating a climate for potential rapid growth. A collaborative research project evaluated the potential ecosystem services and/or impacts of the developing shellfish industry with the goal of providing decision support for siting of shellfish aquaculture within the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve (NCNERR) specifically, and for North Carolina more generally. The Science Team sought input from end users, including reserve managers, state agencies, and shellfish farmers, to develop the framework for a decision-support tool, refine the list of parameters and criteria, and decide on study sites.

About this resource

This Decision-Support Tool provides a framework that can be used to guide discussions among scientists and stakeholders about appropriate criteria for aquaculture siting and can make the decision-making process more transparent. The tool was developed for two locations in North Carolina, and those examples are provided within the presentation slides, along with an explanation of how the framework was developed. The diagram in the presentation is modifiable so that other agencies and stakeholders can use it as a guide for decision-making discussions and modify it as needed to include factors relevant to their region.


Darrow, Elizabeth S., Martin Posey, Troy Alphin, Susanne Brander, Joao Ferreira, and Suzanne Bricker. 2020. Decision-Support Tool for Shellfish Aquaculture Siting in a Coastal Reserve. Available at: