North Carolina watermen and boatbuilders turned out in force Monday to keep a spotlight on Oregon Inlet and urge Dare County commissioners to lead a unified effort to open the channel back up for commerce.
Two local boatbuilders warned that the shallow channel is not just a problem for trawlers that need deeper water.
“The boatbuilding industry is basically eviscerated right now,” said John Bayliss, owner of Bayliss Boatworks in Wanchese.
New boats cannot be taken to sea for testing and delivery, and repair work is going elsewhere because vessels cannot be brought in.
Storms have dumped sand into the channel to the point that it is unusable, sometimes even for the Coast Guard.
More than 150 commercial fishermen, boatyard workers and their families filled the meeting room and spilled into the foyer.