BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Commercial and recreational fishing are important parts of the economy along the Carolina coast. But we've learned that one of the last remaining shellfish harvesting spots in Brunswick County is in serious danger.
Oak Island leaders say they need to raise more than $1 million for a project that could affect the quality of life for residents.
The eastern channel between Oak Island and Holden Beach feeds into the Lockwood Folly Inlet. It's about 8,000 feet long and 75 feet wide. Over the years, the channel has filled in with sand and according to officials, it's gotten so bad that some of the larger boats can't fit through.
Due to a lack of government funding, town leaders in Oak Island are faced with a huge price tag to save the area.
Oak Island Town Manager, Steve Foster says it will cost roughly $2.5 million to dredge the channel.
The town won't get any financial support from the federal government and the state has only agreed to cover up to half the cost.
That leaves Oak Island and Holden Beach to cover more than $1 million. Foster says they can't afford to do that.
"This is some of the last clean, harvestable shellfish areas in Brunswick County which makes it very important for us to try to save this area as much as we can," said Foster. "As a secondary reason it needs to be dredged, is that a lot of people would love to be able to use this channel for navigation."
Foster says both people and wildlife use the channel for travel, fishing, and other activities.
The town is applying for grants from various coastal environmental organizations and the town hopes to obtain some financial support by the middle of next year.
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