2009-07-03 / Community

Oyster Restoration In Rockaway

RWA Environmentor students at Governor's Island counting oysters. RWA Environmentor students at Governor's Island counting oysters. RWA Environmentor students had special guest Katie Mosher- Smith from NY/NJ Baykeepers come to join them on Jamaica Bay to discuss oysters and the restoration project in which the students will take part in Rockaway Waterfront Alliance's Environmentor Program. Katie discussed the role oysters play in filtering water and the purifying process they naturally do that helps clean the water for other fish and wildlife.

A few of the students made the trip to Governor's Island to meet with New York Harbor School Director Murray Fisher to collect their oysters for the restoration project they will initiate in Jamaica Bay off the Rockaway shoreline. This project is the first to be conducted in Rockaway and will be led by RWA students throughout the year. The students then collected, counted and logged the data on the oysters before taking them on the subway to plant in Jamaica Bay.

Jamaica Bay and other waterways used to be filled with oysters and other shellfish in the late 1800s, but overharvesting and pollution contributed to their decline. The RWA oyster project will restore oysters to Jamaica Bay strictly for conservation efforts. The animals will not be released into the bay but will be kept in bags in a few select locations for which RWA received permits from the DEC to use.

Oyster Bay farmer preparing oysters for distribution to the hatchery. Oyster Bay farmer preparing oysters for distribution to the hatchery. The project is part of a larger initiative being conducted by NY/NJ Baykeeper to encourage environmental stewardship and oyster gardening in all five boroughs of New York City with groups like RWA to monitor the oysters throughout the year.

Later in the week the students made the trip to Oyster Bay to meet Dave Relyea, owner of the last licensed oyster and clam fishery in Oyster Bay, to understand how oyster farming has now become a valuable business for both conservation and consumption that could be duplicated in Rockaway to create jobs that could help to revitalize the local economy.

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