The group has so far brought about 30 million oysters into the local waters. But that's still a tiny fraction of what's prevalent in the area.
"Without the oyster reefs, the entire coastline has changed radically," said Group CEO Pete Malinowski, Rachel Crane of CNN Business. "We believe oyster reefs can be part of an integrated approach to resilience and proactive climate change planning."
Malinowski said his team is seeing promising signs. Last year, there was a "dramatic" increase in the number of wild oysters that settled on the reefs of Billion Oyster Projects.
"Recruitment of wild oysters from the system is required for the restoration to be successful," Malinowski said. It could help the population to grow exponentially.
As the name of the group implies, she hopes to one day bring back one billion oysters to New York's waterways with more than 70 restaurants in New York City. The companies save their oysters instead of throwing them, and volunteers from the Billion Oyster Project gather them together and take them to Governors Island, a small island east of the Statue of Liberty.
The trays are then left outside for at least a year. This allows the elements to naturally purify them of organic material before sending them to the New York Harbor School, a maritime-center public high school on Governors Island that is heavily involved in the project.
The students grow and hatch baby oysters, which are then attached to the cleaned trays. The shells and larvae are grouped and strategically located on the New York coast.
The billion-oyster project has begun twelve reefs, some near the coast and others in deeper waters.
The involvement of the community ̵
"Our work with schools and schools communities bring people to the water's edge and begin to restore the relationship that New Yorkers had with the ecosystem," Malinowski said.
The billion-oyster project is being funded by a variety of grants from state and city lenders. The National Science Foundation recently renewed its support for the project with a two-year grant of $ 4.5 million.
The Big Oyster
Hundreds of years ago, the Port of New York was home to more than 200,000 hectares of living oyster reefs. The molluscs cleaned and filtered the water and naturally removed pollutants. Dolphins, seals and other creatures attracted by the vibrant ecosystem swam just off the coast of Manhattan.
"When Europeans arrived in New York Harbor for the first time, there were oyster reefs everywhere and there were so many fish they could not get them out of the way physically," Malinowski said. "In about 100 years, we harvested all the native oysters from the harbor, and all these oysters were consumed locally by the New Yorkers and shipped across the world as food."
Oysters were a favorite treat under New York City's population in the 19th century. Street vendors and restaurants began to eat the cheap, salty seafood.
In the 1900s, New York Harbor was polluted and virtually lifeless. Only with the Clean Water Act of 1972 was it forbidden to throw waste or raw sewage into the harbor.
Only recently has the water become clean enough to support mussels such as mussels, oysters and clams.
The purity of the water is not the only reason why the waters of New York suffered without oysters. Their large reefs served as natural breakwaters for centuries – underwater barriers that protect the land from storm surges and erosive waves – on the New York coast.
The work of the Billion Oyster Project could slowly rebuild the breakwaters. But, "the oyster reefs that protected New York City from their removal … took hundreds of years to reach the size they needed to protect the shore," Malinowski said.
Instead of waiting for a full wait, grown oyster reef to mitigate the storm surge. The Billion Oyster project is working with another group, Living Breakwaters, to create artificial reefs over two miles of the Staten Island coastline. Oysters can then build reefs around the structures, making them bigger and more stable.
The Living Breakwaters Initiative, which is scheduled to begin construction this year, is partly funded by a $ 60 million disaster relief grant awarded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2013.
The design office leading the project said it was time for New Yorkers to take serious steps to tackle the effects of climate change, which is expected to lead to increasingly volatile weather and higher sea levels.
"We need to look at the landscape strategies drastically," she said.
What is in store for BOP
The Billions Oysters project is not the first such initiative.
Much of the oyster population has been restored. And the group encourages other localities to take similar action.
Malinowski, executive director of Billion Oyster Project, said he hopes more initiatives will emerge as people realize the crucial role oysters play in keeping oceans healthy. However, there is still a long way to go before the oysters population near New York are near pre-industrialization levels.
The project's progress is "exciting and it's largely confirmed – but it's also sobering because there's a long way to go," he said.
Malinowski said he was encouraged by the participation of local elementary students. He hopes the work will encourage younger generations to consider environmental and environmental issues no matter what they do.
"The people of New York will be more and more aware that the reason for the pollution [New York Harbor is] is that they are polluted with human garbage – that's a lot of garbage and plastic," he said. "One can easily imagine going to Central Park on a Saturday afternoon and closing the gates because it was full of human waste and garbage."
"The New Yorkers would not stand it and would stop it." 19659038]