View this email in your browser

Welcome to Issue Six -
the last in this special newsletter series

Thank you for signing up to receive this special newsletter about the NC coast and climate change. We hope you find it informative and it enriches your experience of reading the “Changing Tides” series from Carolina Public Press. 
Living shoreline at Whittaker Pointe, in Pamlico County, across the river from Cherry Point. Photo Courtesy of the NC Coastal Federation.
In “Seeking Solutions,” the final installment of our “Changing Tides” special report, reporter Jack Igelman explored the initiatives, regulations and restoration efforts that are offering hope for fisheries and NC’s coastal ecology.

The Living Shoreline 

To reinforce a damaged riverbank, a U.S. Department of Defense program in late 2020 granted $1 million to support the planting of 2,100 linear feet of living shoreline.

The project not only supports North Carolina's Cherry Point’s military mission but also serves as an on-the-ground laboratory of a Duke University initiative to restore eastern oysters in estuarine habitat. The project, one of several living shoreline projects along the North Carolina coast intended to address growing concerns and demonstrate that living shoreline restoration can be scaled and replicated, addresses the cumulative effects of how climate change — including the potential for rising seas, warmer temperatures and more intense storms — will continue to transform the shoreline and the coastal fisheries that depend on a healthy estuarine system.

Working Watermen of Dare County

Working Watermen Commission of Dare County, advising commissioners on fishing-related issues and helping them interpret state and federal regulations. 

The commission, which was dormant for several years, was reinstated in 2018 by Dare County Commissioner Steve House.

“All of our board of commissioners have supported our watermen from day one,” said House, a self-described champion of commercial fishermen and the working waterfront. “This is our heritage. I want to keep it going.”

Resilience and environmental justice

Humans are adaptable. The question is whether we acclimate fast enough.

According to Tyrrell County Manager David Clegg, responding to the consequences of climate change, such as more frequent algal blooms and flooding, should involve the people most affected.

After all, the Albemarle Peninsula where Clegg’s county is located “has always been a pocosin wetland,” he said. “The ecology and hydrology have always been volatile.”

"Yet, the voices of the state’s most vulnerable are often excluded from the official dialogue of responding to climate change," said Jessica Whitehead of Old Dominion University. She directs the Institute for Coastal Adaptation and Resilience at ODU and previously served as North Carolina’s first chief resilience officer with the N.C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency.

“There are people out there who have great ideas,” Whitehead said. “We haven’t given them places at the decision-making table when we’re talking about developing solutions in the way that they deserve. We need to engage them.” 

North Carolina has developed a climate resilience plan that includes strategies for marine fisheries, water infrastructure, air quality and coastal management that takes on infrastructure.

It also includes an environmental justice plan to identify socially vulnerable communities and provide more opportunities for engagement and resources to adapt.

What's on the horizon: Trying to predict the future

Both Maine lobstermen and North Carolina fishermen will have an opportunity to comment on the future governance of East Coast fisheries.

The process, called scenario planning, “is a rigorous, disciplined, replicable way of consistently asking the question of what might happen and what we do as a result of it,” said Jonathan Star, the owner of California-based Scenario Insight who has done consultant work on fisheries scenarios for NOAA. He facilitated a series of virtual meetings as part of the East Coast Climate Change Scenario Planning Initiative.

The problem is that “our experience tells us that we are not particularly good at thinking about the future.”

Precedents exist for using scenario planning to manage fisheries. In 2018, NOAA used scenarios to better understand the challenges of right whale management, and in 2017 the agency piloted a scenario planning exercise for Atlantic salmon.The results led to several policy changes, including new regulations to reduce right whale entanglements with fishing gear and to reduce vessel strikes.

The Changing Tides Panel

Held on Sept. 22, the panel featured experts discussing the issues of erratic weather's effects on coastal communities and livelihoods, as well as solutions to the problems that arise from climate change and man-made environmental damage. 

Meet the panelists

Ryan Bethea gave up teaching to become one of North Carolina's oyster farmers, using science to raise award-winning oysters on Harkers Island.
Leda Cunningham leads the Pew Charitable Trust’s work in North Carolina's waters to protect and restore ocean resources and coastal habitats, including seagrass and oysters, and to ensure sustainable fishing policies.
Jack Igelman is a reporter whose main interest is in conservation and environmental stories that on the people, places and institutions involved with managing the state’s natural resources.
Sara Mirabilio is a Fisheries Extension Specialist at North Carolina Sea Grant.
Malin Pinsky is an Associate Professor at Rutgers University (New Jersey) in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources, a member of the Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, and an affiliate in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences.
Queen Quet, Chieftess and Head-of-State for the Gullah/Geechee Nation, is the founder of the premiere advocacy organization for the continuation of Gullah/Geechee culture, the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition.
Watch the event now!

Follow the dynamic path of the coastal ecology and economy in North Carolina.

Raman Bhardwaj / Carolina Public Press
Raman Bhardwaj / Carolina Public Press

Additional resources

Want to know more about the Gullah Geechee people? 
Visit and

Learn more about The Pew Charitable Trusts' coastal conservation work: 
North Carolina coastal habitat conservation
Initiative to protect 1M acres of salt marsh from North Carolina to Florida.
• NC Coastal Federation partnership to educate and engage the public in the NC Coastal Habitat Protection Plan (CHPP, “the chip”).

See maps and visualizations of how fish and other animals have been shifting to new locations.

The Alliance for the Blue Economy, a multidisciplinary initiative launched by the UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship seeks to establish southeastern North Carolina as a national and global leader in the blue economy.

Give us your feedback!

Thank you for reading this special newsletter. We'd like to learn what you thought and how we could improve, and provide more in depth information on our reporting in the future. Please take this quick poll.

How would you rate this limited-run newsletter?
lowest 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   highest
Sorry, voting is closed.
Would you like to see more of this type of content from us in the future?
lowest 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   highest
Sorry, voting is closed.

Let us know what you think!

The series "Changing Tides" examines the issues of erratic weather and climate change, and their impact on coastal North Carolina, from the perspectives of scientists, regulators and people whose livelihoods depend on the seas. Over the length of the series, readers explored divided opinions, best practices and potential public policy and regulatory shifts that could improve outlooks.
This series is produced by the news team of Carolina Public Press with reporting by Jack Igelman and contributions from Calvin Adkins.
 Photos by Mark Darrough, Calvin Adkins and Jack Igelman. 
Illustration by Mariano Santillan.
 Graphics by Raman Bhardwaj.
Read "Changing Tides"

Check it out! Did you miss any issues of this newsletter? Visit the newsletter landing page to catch up! 

Icons made by Freepik from
"Changing Tides" is made possible in part with support from the Pulitzer Center Connected Coastlines initiative, a nationwide climate reporting initiative in U.S. coastal states, and through the support of readers like you.  
Like what you read? Become a 10 for 10 member today by pledging at least $10 a month to support nonpartisan, public interest reporting for North Carolina. Carolina Public Press is a wholly independent nonprofit news organization devoted to in-depth and investigative reporting in the public interest for all of North Carolina.
Yes, I want to join!
Share this with a friend. 
Carolina Public Press is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit news organization dedicated to nonpartisan, in-depth and investigative news for North Carolina. Launched in 2011, our award-winning, breakthrough journalism dismantles barriers and shines a light on critical overlooked and under-reported issues facing our state's 10.2 million residents.
Copyright © 2022 Carolina Public Press, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.