The Shellfish Sanitation and Recreational Water Quality Section of the Division of Marine Fisheries maintains offices and laboratories in Wilmington, Morehead City and Nags Head. The section is responsible for classifying coastal waters as to their suitability for shellfish harvesting, certification of shellfish and crustacea processing plants as well as monitoring and issuing advisories for coastal recreational swimming areas.
North Carolina is part of the National Shellfish Sanitation Program. The NSSP is administered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, implemented by the states and followed by the shellfish industry. The NSSP is based on public health principles and controls and is designed to prevent human illness associated with the consumption of shellfish. Sanitary controls are established over all phases of the growing, harvesting, shucking, packing and distribution of fresh and fresh-frozen shellfish. In order for North Carolina to ship shellfish interstate, satisfactory compliance criteria contained in the NSSP Guide for the Control of Molluscan Shellfish Model Ordinance must be met.