Karen Amspacher

5th GENERATION HARKERS ISLAND NATIVE 
BASED IN Harkers Island, NC
DIRECTOR OF Core Sound Waterfowl Museum

“There are a lot of very faithful dedicated people in this industry, and there’s an underlying strength that comes with that faith.”

In an industry where there’s growing frustration and hopelessness, Karen Amspacher believes in the future of fishing.
Born on Harkers Island, Karen is now the Director of the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center located on the edge of the island. The museum was founded 25 years ago with the mission to educate locals and visitors about the evolving histories of the communities Down East.  

Karen believes that although seafood has been late to the local foods movement, the North Carolina coast offers an untapped source.  Seafood is a really important part of the local foods story in this state. Just as consumers have gotten to know their farmers, Karen wants to tell the story of fishermen.

Fishing, she says, is not a job.  “For these men, it is in their blood.” Despite this, Karen knows that many fishermen have a negative outlook on the future of fishing.  “It is threatened on all fronts,” she says. “From water quality to politics to economics. I do not deny that, but I choose to believe there is a future.  I believe the industry is evolving. The model is changing.”

“I firmly believe that this place and this industry…the Lord is with us,” Karen says.  “There’s a force within the industry, for all it’s raggedness. There’s a lot of very faithful dedicated people in this industry, and there’s an underlying strength that comes with that faith.  I would walk through hell and back for these men. Barefoot.”

Get to Know More Fishermen & Farmers

Adam Tyler

OYSTER FARMER IN HARKERS ISLAND “When you fish, it’s what you do. Very few people give up the water.”

Buddy Twiford

FISHERMAN IN MANTEO “I couldn’t stay off that water even if I wanted to.”

Fletcher O'Neal

OYSTER FARMER IN OCRACOKE “I’ve always been on the water. It’s just peaceful out here. I always think about leaving, but there’s no place like home.”