In response to an evident lack of accurate data and research needed to effectively manage North Carolina’s coastal resources, a coalition of business leaders, fishers, and concerned citizens devised plans for an innovative, science and education-focused 501(C)3 nonprofit organization.
On May 18, 2018, the North Carolina Marine & Estuary Foundation was founded and permitted to accept tax-deductible contributions from other nonprofits, charities, corporations, and individuals supporting to support its mission: to build world-class fisheries and thriving economies.
The North Carolina Marine & Estuary Foundation partnered with the North Carolina Collaboratory and acclaimed coastal-focused researchers to develop a nationwide assessment of marine fisheries and coastal resource management.
The Foundation and its research partners conducted in-depth interviews with high-ranking senior fisheries administrators from 20 out of 23 coastal states. This included seven chiefs or deputy chiefs, 12 directors, one assistant director, two commissioners, one assistant secretary, and six other distinguished senior administrators.
The North Carolina Marine & Estuary Foundation accomplished several remarkable feats, such as launching its website, establishing digital communication outlets, and securing a federal trademark for its tagline, Think Coastal®.
Atlantic Tarpon Advocacy
The Foundation disseminated peer-reviewed research and data regarding the migration of Atlantic Tarpon. On March 17, 2021, the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission rule 15A NCAC 03M .0509, as amended, prohibits the possession of Tarpon and makes it illegal to gaff, spear, or puncture Tarpon by any method other than hook and line.
On June 25, 2021, a significant milestone was achieved as the Foundation unveiled its Nationwide Assessment. This monumental step marked the initiation of comprehensive research into coastal resource management practices, encompassing crucial topics such as limited entry, gamefish designations, stocking programs, gear prohibitions, quota allocations, and dredging applications.
On July 22nd, 2021, On July 22nd, 2021, the Foundation debuted its ArcGIS Marine Map™ providing detailed knowledge of North Carolina’s coastal watersheds.
Enhanced Coastal Access
On June 1, 2022, the Foundation partnered with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission to support public fishing and coastal access by improving five of the coast’s largest public boating facilities, including Manns Harbor (Croatan Sound, Dare County), Swan Quarter (Pamlico Sound, Hyde County), Beaufort (Taylor’s Creek, Carteret County), Snow’s Cut (ICW near Carolina Beach, New Hanover County), and Oak Island (ICW near Southport, Brunswick County).
The Foundation completed an internal research study on the administrative structure of fisheries management in North Carolina. The study aimed to resolve confusion and explore decision-making processes involving a diverse range of entities at both State and Federal levels.
On February 8th, 2022, the Foundation launched its proprietary stock status indicator, FINDEX®. The cutting-edge metric empowers the public and policymakers with real-time data on North Carolina’s coastal fisheries, serving as an invaluable guide to achieving world-class fisheries.
Striped Bass Restoration
In 2023, the Foundation joined forces with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and the NC Division of Marine Fisheries to stock over 2 million fish and initiate a 3-year collective effort to revive the state’s most depleted coastal fishery: Roanoke River-Albemarle Sound Striped Bass.
Mandatory Harvest Reporting
On September 22, 2023, the NC General Assembly passed groundbreaking harvest reporting legislation that will fill data gaps to better understand how fish are harvested from our coastal waters. A premier part of the Foundation’s policy is now on the verge of changing our fisheries landscape for the first time in more than two decades.