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Posts Tagged ‘oyster’

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Photos: Agata Poniatowski
Oyster shells from restaurants get taken to Governors Island in the heart of the New York Harbor to be used in fighting erosion. Billion Oyster Project has collected more than 1 million pounds of oyster shells so far. 

I go to poetry readings at the local library, and inevitably in the question period, someone in the audience asks the poet, “How do you get your ideas?” (This is a question poets expect, and they always have a ready answer. Watch for the deer-in-the-headlights look if you ask a question they don’t expect.)

But I’m not sure any of us really know where we get our ideas. There is something mysterious about the way individual brains connect connect things heard, seen, smelled, touched, tasted with their individual experiences.

Today’s story is about shoring up an eroding harbor with recycled oyster shells. The idea to use oysters this way comes from years of research and contributions from many people. But, according to the report at National Public Radio (NPR), an idea for extending the benefits came from kids. Read on.

Andrea Strong reports, “Across New York City, more than 70 restaurants are tossing their oyster shells not into the trash or composting pile, but into the city’s eroded harbor. It’s all part of Billion Oyster Project‘s restaurant shell-collection program. …

“The shells are trucked over to Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood and once a month are brought en masse to Governors Island in the heart of the New York Harbor, just yards away from both Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan. There, rolling shell hills sparkle in the sun while ‘curing’ out in the elements for one year, a process that rids them of contaminants.

“The shells then get a final cleaning and are moved to Billion Oyster Project’s hatchery at the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, a public high school on Governors Island that offers technical and vocational training in the marine sciences. In an aquaculture classroom’s hatchery, student-grown oysters produce larvae in an artificially induced springtime environment.

“In one to two weeks, each larvae grows a ‘foot’ — a little limb covered in a kind of natural glue — and then is moved to a tank full of the ‘cured’ restaurant shells, which serve as anchors for all of those sticky feet. This phase is critical: If larvae can’t find a place to attach, they die. One reclaimed shell can house 10 to 20 new live oysters, depending on shell size. …

“If the water is warm enough, mature oysters are moved to a reef structure — a cage or shellfish bag — that provides a stable area for oysters to fuse together and create a healthy reef in the New York Harbor.

“Then, the oysters begin doing what oysters do — which, it turns out, is quite a lot. Oysters are natural water filters; each one cleans 30 to 50 gallons of water a day. They also provide food and shelter for all sorts of marine creatures, supporting biodiversity. …

“Oyster reefs can protect against a hurricane’s wave velocity, which can destroy a city’s infrastructure. The New York Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery has partnered with Billion Oyster Project to install oysters on its $74 million Living Breakwaters Project, which aims to reduce and reverse erosion and damage from storm waves, improve the ecosystem health of Raritan Bay and encourage environmentally conscious stewardship of nearshore waters. …

“Brian Owens, who goes through about 20,000 oysters a week at his restaurant, Crave Fishbar, … says the project is not just smart for sustainability; it’s also good for business. Recycling shells significantly reduces carting expenses, something all NYC restaurants must pay for by the bag. ‘Recycling them into the reef is a huge savings,’ he says.

“In addition to saving on garbage collection, restaurants may soon be eligible for a tax credit thanks to New York Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal. The credit is a much needed balm for restaurants that have been hit with escalating costs and increasing regulatory burdens over the past few years. …

“The idea came from neither restaurants nor Rosenthal, but from students at one of Billion Oyster Project’s partner schools, West End Secondary on the Upper West Side.

“Rosenthal championed their idea, building support for the bill and bringing the students to Albany to learn about lawmaking and to participate in a press conference.

“Education of the next generation of environmental stewards has been at the heart of Billion Oyster Project since its inception in 2008, when [Billion Oyster Project Executive Director Pete] Malinowski was teaching aquaculture at the Harbor School. …

“Fifteen years later … that classroom program has grown into Billion Oyster Project and now includes programming in more than 80 middle and high schools. That works out to about 1,215 high school students and more than 6,500 middle school students. …

” Through this work, students develop awareness and affinity for the resource and the confidence that comes from knowing their actions can make a difference. With young people who care, the harbor has a real fighting chance,’ ” says Malinowski.

More.

Sending 422 oyster reef structures into the Hudson River to protect and purify New York Harbor.

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Photo: Bob Plain

I do love the inventiveness of entrepreneurs. A friend of Suzanne and Erik’s is an inventive entrepreneur — an oyster entrepreneur, to be specific. Since oysters are a seasonal crop, he looked for something that might become his winter crop.

Bob Plain’s Narragansett Bay Blog has the story on Jules Opton-Himmel, RI’s first kelp farmer.

“Kelp, you may or may not have heard, is the next super food. It’s nutritious, sustainable and ecologically beneficial,” writes Plain.

He continues with a quote from a recent New Yorker article by Dana Goodyear: ” ‘Seaweed, which requires neither fresh water nor fertilizer, is one of the world’s most sustainable and nutritious crops. It absorbs dissolved nitrogen, phosphorous, and carbon dioxide directly from the sea — its footprint is negative — and proliferates at a terrific rate.’ …

“Coincidentally – and quite auspiciously – just as the blockbuster New Yorker article hit the newsstands, Opton-Himmel was gearing up to introduce kelp farming to Rhode Island. …

“Farm-raised kelp is grown on a longline – a submersible thick rope, held in place by anchors and buoys, that is used to hold in place seafood harvesting equipment. A thin string of kelp spores is wrapped around the longline, and the kelp grows toward the bottom. Opton-Himmel, with the help of Scott Lindell and David Bailey from the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass, planted 1,000 feet. …

“Unlike oysters, which grow in the warmer months, kelp only grows when it’s cold. That means it could prove an off-season bumper crop for otherwise summertime-only seafood harvesters. Walrus and Carpenter downsizes from 7 to 3 employees in the winter, Opton-Himmel said, and kelp could help him keep the other four on the payroll all year long.

“ ‘I’d love to keep all 6 on year-round,’ Opton-Himmel said.”

More here.

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… turn them into escargots.

Lalita Clozel has a great story at the NY Times today about snails that nobody wanted.

She writes, “On this storm-weathered tip of Mont Saint-Michel Bay, the sweeping tides have washed away the line between land and sea. Fishermen drive their wheeled boats straight into the bay to gather their harvest: an assortment of shellfish prized all over France.

“But now they are finding their nets weighed down by an invasive species: the crépidule, or Atlantic slipper shell, a curious type of sea snail that has spread from the East Coast of the United States.

“Oyster and mussel producers here have watched helplessly as the colony has taken over their beautiful bay, flush with phytoplankton, the micro-organisms that make it a haven for all manner of shellfish and tint the water turquoise.

“Enter Pierrick Clément, a local entrepreneur who looked at the encroaching Atlantic slipper shell and asked an unthinkable question in a town that has built its livelihood on bountiful seafood: Would people eat the insidious creature?

“ ‘As a businessman, I see an opportunity here,’ he said. …

“The community of Cancale now finds itself torn between disgust and relief at Mr. Clément’s project to fish and sell the sea snails for consumption.

“After years of administrative haggling, he has coaxed local municipalities and producers to back his project and begin a campaign to rehabilitate the snail’s image. …

“His pilot factory, among the bustling oyster plants in nearby Le Vivier-sur-mer, ships to a few stores and restaurants in France, Spain and Germany.

“Eventually he hopes to process as much as 100,000 tons of slipper shells per year — enough to offset their growth in the bays.” More here.

This entrepreneur’s adaptability fits with what my father used to say about the French secret of beauty. It was along the lines of Feature what you’ve got.

“If you have a big nose,” he said, “hang a beer can on it.”

Photo: Catalina Martin-Chico for The New York Times

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A swell time was had by all at the 350th anniversary of British settlers landing their boats on the shores of what is still the smallest community in the smallest state! The sun shone, the speakers were brief, and lots of pictures were taken.

I thought we had come a long way as a country when several speakers, including the governor, acknowledged that the Manissean Indians were there first and that there would be another ceremony at the Indian Cemetery the following weekend, with another commemorative marker.

The governor, who had earlier visited an oyster aquaculture area by boat, was brief and gracious. Interesting speakers included a Rear Admiral with a surname that is pronounced — I kid you not — Neptune. He gave the chief of police an award for a risky rescue at sea last year.

Dutch Consul General Kibbelaar was there because it was a Dutch navigator who originally named the island as he sailed by without landing. British Consul General Budden, based in Boston, made jokes about his brother who is the Consul General in Vancouver and the bet he intended to collect since Boston won hockey’s Stanley Cup. Budden was invited because the British were the ones who landed at Settlers’ Rock 350 years ago. He said that Britain today is the biggest foreign investor in Rhode Island. The chorus of the island school (which had recently graduated all seven seniors) sang the Alma Mater and “America the Beautiful.”

Gov. Lincoln Chafee (in green blazer)

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Warden Kim Gaffett (in straw hat) and governor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dutch Consul General Kibbelaar (in white suit)

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