Bringing the Oyster Back to New York Harbor

Oyster shells like these were used to create an artificial reef off of Governors Island
Today’s Brooklyn Daily Eagle updated readers on efforts to bring the oyster back to New York City. Did you know that there was once 350,000 square miles of oyster reefs in the waterways of New York City? In fact, these tasty mollusks were  farmed in the East River as recently as the turn of the 20th century. Overfishing and environmental degradation eventually led to the decline of oysters in New York Harbor and now there are none left. New York/New Jersey Baykeeper is working to change that by bring the oyster back to New York Harbor. In collaboration with the Army Corps of Engineers, they are creating six artificial oyster reefs to be placed in waters around New York Harbor and up the Hudson River. One of these reefs was placed off of Governors Island in October. The reefs, which are approximately 15 feet by 30 feet, were designed to mimic natural reefs as much as possible. During the next two years scientists will use the reefs as research platforms to characterize oyster reef development survival and growth of the oysters themselves as well as ecosystem services provided by the reefs. The artificial reef isn’t the only oyster restoration project happening on Governors Island. The Urban Assembly New York Harbor School is growing oysters that will be placed in experimental sites, including this one, around the Harbor.