About Billion Oyster Project: Billion Oyster Project’s mission is to restore a sustainable oyster population to New York Harbor and to rebuild a connection to the Harbor by engaging New Yorkers directly in the work of growing and restoring one billion oysters.
Oysters were the keystone species and original ecosystem engineers of New York Harbor. Oyster reefs once covered more than 220,000 acres of the Hudson River estuary. They provided valuable ecosystem services to the region by filtering water, providing habitat for other marine species and attenuating wave energy. Today, oysters are functionally extinct in the Harbor as a result of overharvesting, dredging and pollution. The absence of oysters has impaired our estuary’s ability to clean the water and absorb excess nitrogen; the loss of reefs has reduced protective habitat, destabilized the sea floor and left our shoreline vulnerable to destructive wave action. The Billion Oyster Project aims to reverse these effects by bringing oysters and their reef habitat back to New York Harbor. Restoring oysters and reefs will, over time, restore the local marine ecosystem’s natural mechanisms for maintaining itself, resulting in cleaner water and greater biodiversity. Engaging students and the general public in this work will build a culture of stewardship and a more robust understanding and appreciation of the Harbor for future generations.
About New York Harbor School: Billion Oyster Project’s primary educational partner is Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, also called the Harbor School, a public high school located on Governors Island. This school is unique in New York City, which has 538 miles (866 km) of waterfront, in that it attempts to relate many aspects of its curriculum to the water. The school is part of the Urban Assembly network of 21 college-prep schools in New York City. Harbor School is classified as a Career and Technical Education (CTE) school and has six certificated CTE programs in marine science and technology. These are: Aquaculture, Professional Diving, Marine Biology Research, Vessel Operations, Ocean Engineering, and Marine Systems Technology. Harbor School recently launched a new CTE program in Marine Policy and Advocacy. All students are required to choose and complete one of these seven three-year courses of study.