Updated: Jul 10
The Billion Oyster Project (BOP) is on a mission, and it's pretty big.
BOP is working overtime to restore one billion oysters to the New York Harbor by 2035. While oysters might objectively seem to be at the center of their work, their community is actually at the crux of their mission.
The front page of the BOP website centers the stark fact that it took less than 100 years for New Yorkers to wipe out the oyster population in the NY harbor.
Yet, restoring the harbor's diverse and abundant estuary isn't just about putting oysters back in the harbor, it's also about restoring the communal ecosystem surrounding it. That despite the collapse of the oyster population by New Yorkers, it's also New Yorkers that can regrow its ecosystem again, such as reconstructing habitats for hundreds of species, or strengthening their shorelines with oyster reefs to reduce erosion and flooding.
This mindset touches on an ethos that we carry close to our work here at Oyster Seed Holdings. In the same way that we are passionate about growing disease-resistant larvae and oyster seed, developing hatchery technology and finding ways to continue pushing forward shellfish industry standards, we are equally as determined to build community around aquaculture, and educate our neighbors about the net-positive impact of farm-raised shellfish on the environment. (Click here to read more about some of our outreach efforts.)
Pete Malinowski, BOP's Executive Director & Co-Founder sums up our shared sentiments perfectly, “The key to solving the challenges of climate change is changing human behavior, and humans aren’t going to change their behavior without a direct connection to the natural world.” BOP is leading the largest oyster restoration effort in the world, through a process that engages their community every step of the way.
The BOP is engaging their community through work, education and recreation efforts. From 15,000 volunteers out "in-the-field" building oyster reef structures, sorting baby oysters, to monitoring and testing restoration methods, collecting data and evaluating impacts. They established a K-12 classroom curriculum that engages students with local ecology and waterfronts, and support a Governors Island high school in CTE programs. They established the Community Water Quality Testing (CWQT) program to test the NY Harbor weekly for harmful bacteria, to increase equitable access to the waterfront. They also collect discarded shells from NY restaurants that are used toward constructing new reefs. Visit their website to learn more about their work.
OSH Sends off 63 Million Oyster Larvae to BOP
Needless to say, we're excited to be a small part of this incredible initiative for the state of New York. Our team at the hatchery has been very busy the last few weeks preparing our first shipment of millions and millions of oyster larvae to send out to the Billion Oyster Project.
This was a full team effort to back up Kasey Balderson, our Hatchery Manager, who ran around attending to every full tank in the hatchery keeping the millions of baby oysters nourished and growing. To Alex and Casey growing nutritious phytoplankton necessary for their rapid growth and early survival. To Scott managing the broodstock parents and prepping them for Kasey's spawn. And, Gretchen carefully packaging and preparing them for their long trip up the coast!