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First Living Shoreline in Raritan Bay Installed!

First Living Shoreline in Raritan Bay Installed!

August 20, 2016

NY/NJ Baykeeper and partners began the installation of a first of its kind urban living shoreline this week. Located at Naval Weapons Station Earle in Monmouth County, NJ, the 0.91 acre living shoreline will consist of an artificial reef using live oysters and concrete structures known as oyster castles to fortify and protect the coast along the Raritan Bayshore. The oyster castles will provide the necessary hard surface that oysters can attach and grow on. This project is one of the first times groundbreaking oyster castles will be used in New Jersey.

After Hurricane Sandy, it became clear that coastal resiliency should have become an immediate priority. We expect the living shoreline to provide data to tackle the impending threats of climate change and shoreline erosion. The project will determine if a living shoreline can stabilize the mouth of Ware Creek, protect the surrounding environment, improve water quality, and create aquatic habitat in the urban NY-NJ Harbor Estuary.

As a bi-state restoration leader, we’re excited to construct a living shoreline and thankful for all the help the Navy has provided over the years through our unique partnership. Protecting our vulnerable urban coasts using natural mechanisms is critical to address shoreline erosion and improve coastal resiliency.

The US Navy and NY/NJ Baykeeper have been partners since 2010 when the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection banned all shellfish research, restoration, and education activities in waters deemed too contaminated or waters classified as “Restricted” or “Prohibited” for shellfish harvest. The United States Navy at Naval Weapons Station Earle provides property, guidance, and supports our oyster restoration activities.

Why Oysters?

Oysters are a powerful species with unique capabilities to filter and clean water, provide habitat for other sea creatures, improve resiliency to storm surge and erosion. Oysters once thrived in the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary, so much so that Ellis Island was previously called Little Oyster Island. However, overharvesting, pollution and sedimentation of reefs resulted in a sharp population decline. There is no longer a sustainable oyster population in the NYNJ Harbor area today, which is why NY/NJ Baykeeper works to restore them.

The living shoreline project has received permits from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and the US Army Corps of Engineers. Additional restoration activities occurring at Naval Weapons Station Earle this summer include setting oysters at NY/NJ Baykeeper’s aquaculture facility, monitoring the oysters and structures in the ¼ acre experimental restoration plot to assess survival and growth, repeating a successful biodiversity study, and continuing to collect water quality data. This project is funded, in part, by the Marta Heflin Foundation.

Addressing climate change and sea level rise is important now more than ever. Check out the Regional Plan’s Association December 2016 report here: Under Water: How Sea Level Rise Threatens the Tri-State Region.

Meredith Comi

Restoration Program Director