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Local Oyster Farm Movement Improves Waters

Biosecurity Water quality Oysters +5 more

US, WARREN Put together bags of baby oysters and an army of local waterfront owners with access to moorings and docks, and poof a local movement is born to bring back the local oyster population.

In an effort to rejuvenate water clarity, reduce pollution and encourage the state’s oysters to make a comeback in local waters, Roger Williams University’s Rhode Island Oyster Gardening for Restoration and Enhancement program (RI-OGRE) has been enlisting the help of locals from all over the East Bay to assist shellfish specialists to restore oyster habitats in Narragansett Bay and coastal ponds, writes Abigail Crocker for EastBayRI.

The project is more than research, according to program advocates — it’s essential to maintaining healthy ecosystems says the local news agency.

In recent years, ecologists had seen a drop-off in local oyster populations due to overfishing and pollution. This had led to a demise in water clarity, an increase in pollution, and a surge in nitrogen that leads to fish kills due to a lack of oxygen. Because oysters are incredible filter feeders, they help to clean the bays. According to project coordinator Steve Patterson, one adult oyster can filter about 60 gallons of water per day.

“Have you gone in the waters? It’s much murkier than it once was. We want to improve it,” said Mr. Patterson.

The project was started in 2006 and enlisted volunteers to grow disease-resistant oysters raised at the Roger Williams University hatchery. There at the hatchery, oyster larvae are raised within large tanks. In those tanks, the water temperature is raised incrementally to about 75 degrees to “fake out” oysters and promote spawning, or breeding.