Join the NC Oyster Trail to:
How to Become a Member
To become a member of the NC Oyster Trail, submit an application. The annual membership fee is $100. There is an additional one-time setup fee of $50. Fees collected will be used for administrative costs to manage and promote the NC Oyster Trail. In light of the impacts of COVID-19 on the oyster tourism sector, fees for membership in 2021 will be reduced or waived for members facing financial hardship.
- Sites must offer a memorable, participatory element that engages tourists with N.C. oysters. Site managers and staff must be familiar with the Tourist Takeaways (see below) and consistently convey this information to guests.
- Site managers must complete the online NC Oysters 101 quiz, correctly answering 8/10 questions. Potential trail members can take the quiz as many times as necessary. Not prepared? Check out our Education Resources (see below).
- Trail sites must display recognition of membership. Trail banners will be provided to all member sites and should be visible to the public.
- Restaurants and seafood markets must offer at least one type of N.C. oyster for purchase year-round (or during open months, if business is seasonal). Exceptions will be made for unavailability due to extreme events like hurricanes and closures.
NC Oyster trail members will enjoy promotion through various channels, including:
- An interactive online map that links to trail member websites
- A listing on the NC Oyster Trail website that describes each member’s oyster tourism offerings
- Social media (e.g., Facebook, Instagram)
Tag us on Instagram @NCOysterTrail, and use the hashtag #NCOysterTrail to amplify your content.
- Print, TV and digital media
- News releases about trail opportunities
- Annual “Oystoberfest” event showcasing trail member businesses and organizations
- Local visitors bureau and chamber of commerce
- NC Oyster Trail swag, such as banners, magnets, stickers, coasters, brochures and T-shirts
What should an NC Oyster Trail guest learn at a trail site?
- N.C. oysters are available year-round, not only in months that end in “r.”
- N.C. oysters taste differently depending on where they are grown. They have unique flavor profiles that stem from local environmental conditions, such as salinity and available food.
- N.C. oysters can be found at a variety of markets and restaurants on the coast and inland.
- N.C. oysters support the livelihoods of watermen and women and sustain traditional working waterfront communities.
- Wild and farmed oysters support a healthy coast.
- N.C. oysters benefit the marine and coastal environment by providing the “three Fs”:
- Food (oysters are a food source for humans and other animals)
- Filtering capacity (oysters improve water quality as they strain nutrients from water through their gills; one adult oyster can filter 50 gallons of water in a day)
- Fish habitat (as wild oysters grow, they fuse together, forming rock-like reefs that provide habitat to hundreds of animal and plant species, including many fish in their early life stages)
- Recycled oyster shells can be used to create new oyster reefs. Juvenile oysters attach to the hard surface, where they grow into adults.
Want to learn more about N.C. oysters? Check out these education resources:
- North Carolina Cultured Shellfish — an overview from North Carolina Sea Grant
- Mariner’s Menu — free seafood recipes from North Carolina Sea Grant
- Oyster Shell Recycling Program — information from the North Carolina Coastal Federation
- Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) — species and fishery information from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality
- NC Oyster Blueprint — an action plan for restoration and protection from the North Carolina Coastal Federation
- Oyster Restoration — an overview from the North Carolina Coastal Federation
- Restoring North Carolina’s Oysters — a brief history of oyster decline and restoration from The Nature Conservancy
- Careers in Mariculture — a video from North Carolina Sea Grant