Billion Oyster Project

A large-scale plan to restore one billion live oysters to New York Harbor over the next twenty years.

The Problem

When Henry Hudson entered New York Harbor — the world’s deepest natural harbor — in 1609, he had to navigate 220,000 acres of oyster reefs. Home to thousands of marine species, the reefs were among the most dynamic, biodiverse environments on the planet. But by 1906, New Yorkers had eaten every last oyster, and hundreds of years worth of dumped raw sewage had made the harbor, and the reefs, toxic and nearly lifeless. So they remained for most of the 20th Century, until environmental laws like the 1972 Clean Water Act gradually led to improvements in water quality.

The Solution

The Billion Oyster project aims to restore a billion oysters to New York Harbor by 2035, making the world-famous gateway once again the most productive and diverse waterbody in the North Atlantic. Once restored, the reefs will again be home to seahorses, whales, seals and a multitude of other marine species, and will provide a natural protective barrier against storms, such as 2012’s devastating Super Storm Sandy. The program has mobilized thousands of volunteers in hands-on restoration work, including local students participating as part of their STEM eduction, and it partners with 60-plus New York restaurants to divert oyster shells from landfills and into to the harbor. Donations support aquaculture, education, community outreach projects as well as large-scale investments in green-blue infrastructure of New York Harbor.

Stage of Development

  • Early Stage
  • Established Prototype
  • Scaling
  • Other

Organization to Receive Funds

Billions Oyster Project

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