The world might be your oyster, but Jamaica Bay is full of the bivalve molluscs.
Starting with 36 thousand oysters last week and 12 thousand more this week, the largest single installation of breeding oysters in New York City began. A spokesman from the mayor’s office said hundreds of thousands of juvenile oysters will be added in the spring.
Oysters filter pollutants from water, help to protect wetlands and shoreline from erosion and storm surge and provide habitat for communities of fish and other aquatic organisms. The mass of oysters in the New York/New Jersey Harbor dwindled due to over harvesting, dredging and pollution.
“This oyster bed will serve multiple purposes – protecting our wetlands from erosion, naturally filtering our water and providing a home for our sea dwellers are just a few,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. “More broadly, this oyster bed is a small but necessary step in our broader OneNYC commitment to create a more sustainable and more resilient city.”
Once the oyster installation is complete, water quality in the vicinity of the beds will be monitored for anticipated improvements. The oysters will be monitored by The Billion Oyster Project and students from the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, the mayor’s office said.
The oyster installation is near JFK airport, so the spokesman for City Hall said the Coast Guard and Port Authority Police will also be nearby to monitor the area.
“Jamaica Bay is one of New York City’s most treasured natural environments, and we are excited to begin work with our partners on the establishment of the largest oyster bed installation in the bay to date,” said DEP Acting Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “Water quality monitoring and prior pilot projects show that oysters can survive in Jamaica Bay, and we hope this research effort will demonstrate that recruitment of new oysters and the establishment of a self-sustaining oyster population is within reach.”
The project is being funded with a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Interior, which is administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the mayor’s office said. DEP is contributing $375,000.