Oyster Restoration Helps the Environment

All over the world, oyster-restoration projects are taking place to improve the ecosystem. Native oysters once provided these ecological services, but they have been over-fished. It’s estimated that 85% of the world’s oysters have been lost. Oyster farming and oyster restoration projects are making up for this loss.

In the San Francisco Bay, oysters are being restored using shells from Drakes Bay Oyster Company. As the last oyster cannery in California, Drakes Bay is the only local source of shell. A Point Reyes Light article from 2006 tells the story of how Drakes Bay got involved, making the project possible.

A front-page story in the San Francisco Chronicle November 15, 2013 highlights a recent milestone in this important project: two million baby oysters have settled on the man-made reefs created from Drakes Bay shells.

The SF Bay oyster restoration project is part of the San Francisco Bay Subtidal Habitat Goals Project. These oysters will never be harvested for human consumption.

Farmed oysters provide the same benefits to the ecosystem. For this reason, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) promotes aquaculture. Read about the benefits of oyster farming at NOAA’s website FishWatch.gov.

NOAA’s oyster-restoration work in the Chesapeake Bay is discussed here.

A number of private-sector programs are also using oysters to improve the environment. This non-profit is restoring oysters in Massachusetts. Oysters for Life is helping to save the Chesapeake Bay with an innovative, entrepreneurial approach to oyster farming.