Ocracoke Island seafood heroes retire


When Ocracoke Island almost lost its only fish house, Pattie and Hardy Plyler stepped up to run it as a community association. The couple's retires in September. 

Ocracoke Island almost lost its only fish house in 2006 when property went up for sale. Commercial fishermen rallied to raise money to buy the fish house. And Pattie and Hardy Plyler stepped up to handle day-to-day operations. Now, its time to thank, honor and celebrate the Plylers, who have given so much, as they retire.

“Hardy had fished here for 30 years when the fish house effort came together,” Pattie told Raising the Story blog in 2022. “He stepped up to manage the wholesale business. When the retail side opened, he said to me, ‘You’d be perfect!’ I had spent the last 20 years or so working as a receptionist at different hotels on the island. Before that I was in the fashion business, working as a buyer for Macy’s in New York. Now I’m slinging fish instead of buying clothes!”

Hardy was right. Pattie ending up loving the work. “You meet people and they become like family,” she said. “They come back year after year - we’ve created a bond.”

Hardy is a Gatesville, N.C. native who graduated as a Morehead Scholar from UNC-Chapel Hill. "Of all the business opportunities afforded to an individual with his prestigious educational background, Plyler moved to Ocracoke in 1972 and became a fisherman," the Roanoke-Chowan News Herald reported in 2019

“The Ocracoke Seafood Company provides a connection to the island’s past, but also a living expression to the spirit of the island’s current residents who endeavor to preserve a local resource and a viable way of life for the working watermen of the island,” Hardy told the newspaper. “It also preserves a maritime heritage that benefits everyone on this island. It’s a community based business.”

Hardy also heads up the island’s seafood branding effort, Ocracoke Fresh, one of the regional Catch groups under the NC Catch umbrella, working to educate consumers about the importance of local seafood.

Ocracoke Seafood Company continues to operate as a community association run by fishermen, with all profits going back into the fish house.

Thank you Hardy and Pattie for every single second you’ve spent supporting our commercial fishing families and North Carolina's seafood heritage. It is truly appreciated! 🥂Stop by and say thank you to the Plylers for their years of service to the fish house and wish them well as they begin retirement at a celebration 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 9 at Ocracoke Seafood Company.

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