Ocracoke - North Carolina Rising examines the successful revitalization of rural communities in North Carolina.
The 12-part North Carolina Now series spotlights success stories of jobs and stability.
Issue: Loss of Ocracoke’s last fish house and the commercial fishing industry
Goal: Sustain the commercial fishing industry for Ocracoke, NC
Note: Detailed history and press archives are available at www.ocracokewatermen.org
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Final Presentation Rome, Italy 2016
OWWA researcher and presenter: Anna Child, MPH Consultant,
Products, Trade and Marketing Service (FIPM) Fisheries and Aquaculture Department
In spring of 2006, Ocracoke watermen learned that the last operating fish house would not reopen and was up for sale. Individually, none of the 25+ local watermen would be able to afford the 325,000 price tag. Was it possible that they could come together and come up with the funds? If so, where would these funds come from? How could they manage a business together when they are so uniquely independent?
Ocracoke is a maritime community. The first settlers worked the water and many of their descendants still do. Their purpose was and still is to provide fresh food and from this, they earn a living. Watermen must adapt to the constantly changing environment and at the same time struggle to manage additional challenges such as cheaper imported seafood, regulatory demands, rise in coastal land values, and the high cost of fuel.
On Ocracoke, these problems are magnified because of the island’s remote location. There is no way to make a living in fishing if each waterman has to get on the ferry, drive three hours round trip off the island and pay for fuel as well as ice. Private development has eaten up any available waterfront property and the high cost of coastal real estate makes the purchase of any potential piece of property, nearly impossible.
The Ocracoke Watermen: In 2006 the watermen held a series of meetings and identified: challenges, needs, solutions, future growth potential and ways they could fulfill what they believed was an educational responsibility to the public.
Role of The Ocracoke Foundation (OFI): To work closely with the watermen and ensure that solutions reflected their needs. OFI would be the organizational vehicle the watermen needed to reach their goal.
Record the challenges, needs, solutions, future growth potential and educational outreach.
Organize the campaign to save the fish house
Locate and apply for funding
Establish a for-profit business entity (buying and selling of seafood) – Ocracoke Seafood Company
Establish a non-profit entity (research and education) – Ocracoke Working Watermen’s Association (OWWA)
Develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
Core Sound Waterfowl Museum – Karen Amspacher
Community of Ocracoke
Hyde County Commissioners
Hyde County Revolving Loan Fund
North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center
Golden LEAF Foundation
NC Sea Grant Office of Seafood Technologies
Information: Please visit these links for detailed information
www.ocracokewatermen.org and www.ocracokeseafood.com
Press and video archives www.ocracokewatermen.org/news.aspx
About OWWA www.ocracokewatermen.org/aboutOWWA.aspx
Research and Restoration www.ocracokewatermen.org/Research_Restoration.aspx
The Ocracoke Working Watermen’s Exhibit
Ocracoke Case Study begins on Page 341.
Janet Chrzan, Ph.D.
Department of Anthropology
University of Pennsylvania