Saving the New York coasts by reintroducing a billion live oysters in just a few years is the incredible challenge of Tanasia and the association for which she works, the “Billion Oyster Project”.

Tanasia Swift is saving New York’s shores with… oysters. She works for the “Billion Oyster Project”, a non-profit organization that collects oyster shells from restaurants to build reefs.

I have the chance to go into the field, to work with the community to reintroduce oysters in our port, by involving the inhabitants“, rejoices Tanasia. Oyster reefs are indeed essential for healthy coasts. The oysters used were born in a hatchery and raised on oyster shells.

Once mature, the oysters are placed in reef structures, where they filter polluted water and attract marine life. “They pump water from the water column, they keep phytoplankton for food, and for waste, they wrap them in mucus, which creates heavy particles that sink to the bottom of the water. This is how reefs are formed, those 3D structures where fish and other critters hide“, develops Tanasia. The reefs can even protect the city from flooding: they create a natural barrier between the port and the land.

New York was the oyster capital of the world. In the 1600s, nearly half of the world’s oysters were found in this region. But little by little, we began to overfish these oysters, to the point that they could no longer maintain their population. The Billion Oyster Project hopes to reintroduce one billion live oysters into New York Harbor by 2035.

The oyster population in the United States has been declining for 100 years. Similar restoration projects are being carried out in Florida, Alabama and California.

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