In this month of advocacy, the Society continues raising awareness about issues affecting our marine ecosystem faces specifically around shellfish, hurdles the organization faces to implement projects and grow programs, and action items to progress forward.
Shellfish are vital parts of the local economy as well as the ecosystem, as they serve to clean water, create habitat, and protect shorelines. Unfortunately, as the human populations grew along the coast, many shellfish species faced over-harvesting, disease, habitat loss, and ultimately mortality. In Barnegat Bay alone, oyster populations are less than 1% of their size 100 years ago.
In an effort to reverse that decline, while also cleaning water and making the coast more resistant to storms, the American Littoral Society works to implement projects that involve living shorelines, oyster reefs, and shell recycling. Unlike beach replenishment, these projects address shoreline protection, habitat creation, water quality improvement, and oyster population growth.
The umbrella for much of this work is Operation Oyster, our state-wide program encompassing all things oyster. From bay to plate and back, this program has a state-wide action plan to assist the oyster and local communities, by taking discarded shell from restaurants and turning them into projects that protect and restore the coast.
These efforts do not come without hurdles, however. The two big ones are long-term funding and state restrictions in classified waters.
To keep our work moving we are constantly in conversations with the state of NJ to permit live-oyster projects, while also continually pursuing new grant opportunities and funding sources. Making lasting change requires Involvement and action from agencies, foundations, the state and local governments, as well as individuals who care for the coast.
Join us to raise awareness about these issues and the need for action. Together, lets advocate for the coast!