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Oceans and Coasts

Oyster Restoration in the Great Bay Estuary

Can oysters be a key to turning the tide in the health of Great Bay?

New Video! Oyster Restoration in Great Bay & Gulf of Maine (new April 2015)
2014 Oyster Restoration Report (new May 2015)
2014 Oyster Conservationist Report (new October 2014)
Great Bay Oyster Restoration Fact Sheet (new April 2014)

The eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) has historically played a vital role in the ecology of Great Bay Estuary. As many as 1,000 acres of live oyster reef may have covered the estuary in1970, but over 90% of oysters were lost due to pollution, harvest, and disease. Without oysters, Great Bay Estuary is lacking the natural filtration capacity to maintain healthy eelgrass beds and fish nurseries as nitrogen and siltation increase. Now with your help, the oysters are making a big comeback.

The Nature Conservancy and The University of New Hampshire, together with other partners, are teaming up to rebuild degraded oyster reef habitat in the Piscataqua Region Estuary of New Hampshire and Maine. Thanks to support from dedicated members like you, the program has successfully restored more than eighteen acres of reef and 3.5M oysters to the system since 2009. Oysters are an ecological linchpin of the estuary, providing essential fish habitat and water quality regulation services. In recent years the team has scaled-up efforts,  with as much as five acres and 1M oysters restored annually.

From the volunteer oyster conservationists who raise young spat in cages off their docks to the scientists who reconstruct historic reef sites for the juvenile oysters to call home, our approach literally takes a village. Below are just a few of our many stories!

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New Hampshire Estuary Spatial Planning Project

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