Oyster Restoration

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Oysters are a favorite seafood dish for some, but they serve an even more important role in the marine ecosystem. When oysters feed, they filter excess nutrients and suspended solids from the water column, essentially "cleaning" the water of a bay or estuary. A combination of threats, including pollution, overharvesting and disease has caused a severe decline in oyster populations in New Hampshire's Great Bay Estuary since the 1970s. To increase the "filtering" of the bay and reduce excess nutrientsentering the Great Bay system, federal and state efforts have been focused on restoring oyster populations.

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the University of New Hampshire (UNH) work together with N.H. Fish and Game (NHF&G), Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP), the State of NH Moose-plate Program, and the Davis Foundation to restore native oyster populations in Great Bay Estuary. The leading organizations have reached out to the local community to educate residents about the importance of oysters in Great Bay and local residents have actively responded. Local homeowners participate in the restoration process through the Oyster Conservationist Program and other volunteer opportunities. Our Oyster Conservationist Program (www.nature.org/NHoysters) works directly with homeowners with waterfront property or access to the water to raise young oysters (spat) into healthy adults, which will be used for restoration.

The Coastal Research Volunteers are also participating in the restoration process through preparation work such as handling of shell bags and washing of recycled shell used for the transport and construction of the new two-acre reef. Other volunteer opportunities include careful monitoring and measuring growth of juvenile oysters so these invertebrates reach a size where they can achieve survival. Our volunteers serve an integral part in the restoration of oysters here in Great Bay Estuary and their dedication shows an increasing interest in improving the Bay's water together.

Volunteer for Oyster Restoration.

Contact information:
Ray Konisky (Director of Marine Science, N.H. Chapter, TNC), rkonisky@tnc.org
Ray Grizzle (Research Scientist, UNH), ray.grizzle@unh.edu
Krystin Ward (Research Technician, UNH), kward@unh.edu
Megan Glenn (UNH), mefolz.glenn@gmail.com
Jess Batchelder (TNC), nhoysters@tnc.org