Billion Oyster Project is an organization working to naturally restore the health of New York Harbor. Their weapon of choice? Oysters.
“Oyster reefs once covered more than 220,000 acres of the Hudson River estuary,” BOP writes on their website. “They provided valuable ecosystem services to the region by filtering water, providing habitat for other marine species and attenuating wave energy. Today, oysters are functionally extinct in the Harbor as a result of overharvesting, dredging and pollution. The absence of oysters has impaired our estuary’s ability to clean the water and absorb excess nitrogen; the loss of reefs has reduced protective habitat, destabilized the sea floor and left our shoreline vulnerable to destructive wave action.”
In order to restore oysters to the harbor, BOP works with a number of local schools. By engaging local students in everything from SCUBA safety training to management of commercial-scale oyster nurseries, BOP hopes to inspire a new generation of care-takers for the harbor.
BOP also goes so far as to involve New York City restaurants in the process. Through BOP’s ‘Shell Collection Program’ restaurants can recycle their used oyster shells. Returning oyster shells back into the harbor helps new oysters to grow, thus furthering the harbor’s restoration.
Written by Emma Hayward, 02/24/2016