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BOP, an initiative of the New York Harbor Foundation, is an ecosystem restoration and education project aimed at restoring one billion live oysters to New York Harbor and engaging hundreds of thousands of school children through restoration based STEM education programs. Students at New York Harbor School have been growing and restoring oysters in New York Harbor for the last six years. They have learned to SCUBA dive safely, raise oyster larvae, operate and maintain vessels, build and operate commercial-scaled oyster nurseries, design underwater monitoring equipment and conduct long-term authentic research projects all in the murky, contaminated, fast moving waters of one of the busiest ports in the country. Together and with the help of many partners these students have restored over nineteen million oysters. Fifty-four schools have partnered with the project to provide authentic, place-based science and math lessons through the lens of oyster restoration. Each year, thousands of students participate in these learning opportunities.
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. Moreover, 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.
BOP IS IN SEARCH OF PARTNERS to build out Phase 2 of the project. Building on the successes of the last several years, in Phase 2 BOP will expand through its 4 Programs (1) Oyster Production & Reef Construction & Monitoring, (2) BOP Schools & Citizen Science, (3) Restaurants & Shell Collection and (4) Public Programs. Each stands alone as an important advance in ecosystem restoration, public education or both. Together they are a Harbor and City-wide project that will have a dramatic impact on ecosystem health and public understanding and appreciation of the Harbor.
Murray Fisher has been President of New York Harbor Foundation since he created the organization in 2010. He founded Urban Assembly New York Harbor School in 2003 and served as its Program Director until 2010. Murray led the school’s move from the Bushwick section of Brooklyn to a newly renovated building on Governors Island and led a successful capital campaign for the school’s new waterfront Marine Affairs, Science and Technology (MAST) Center. Murray is the co-founder of the Billion Oyster Project. Prior to founding Harbor School, he worked as a Field Coordinator at Waterkeeper Alliance and an Educator at Hudson Riverkeeper. Murray holds a B.A. from Vanderbilt University.
Peter Malinowski has taught marine science and aquaculture at New York Harbor School since 2008 and since 2010 has served as the school’s Aquaculture Program Director. In April 2014 he was named Director of the Billion Oyster Project, which he developed with Murray Fisher. Pete has played a lead role in local marine restoration efforts, notably in connection with the Oyster Restoration Research Project (ORRP) in New York Harbor. Prior to joining Harbor School, he worked as a tall ship educator and deckhand at Ocean Classroom Foundation, and as a seasonal foreman at the Fishers Island Oyster Farm. Pete holds a B.A. from Vassar College, and is a Coast Guard licensed captain.
Samuel Janis joined New York Harbor Foundation as Restoration Program Manager (RPM) in 2012 and is now the Program Manager for the BOP Schools Program. Sam is largely responsible for a recent award from the National Science Foundation for $5 million to fund BOP Schools. Prior to joining the Foundation, Sam held several academic research positions and worked as an educator in both academic and experiential settings, including as a social studies teacher at Harbor School. Sam holds a B.A. from UC Santa Cruz and a M.A.L.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Jeremy Esposito has strong ties to aquaculture and the ecological role it plays. His understanding of fisheries & aquaculture comes from hands-on experience in the aquaculture industry. He holds a degree in Marine Biology and has worked as hatchery manager on Fishers Island Oyster Farm. Jeremy is now Hatchery Manager for the Billion Oyster Project. Duties include phytoplankton production, oyster propagation as well as supporting student research projects. Jeremy is also the co-teacher for New York Harbor School’s Aquaculture program.
Robina Taliaferrow began working at the Foundation in 2013 and is now the new community liaison for the Billion Oyster Project. She is a professional veteran in customer relations, research analysis, and troubleshooting; her skills were honed in the corporate sector. Robina will utilize her expertise as she communicates with, and provide onsite technical support to the educators within the BOP middle school network. She will also assist the project manager and curriculum specialist with planning, reporting, and BOP events. Robina joined the Harbor School family in 2010 when her son Gabriel joined the class of 2013.
Steve Malinowski PhD is the co-founder, along with his wife Sarah, and president of the Fishers Island Oyster Farm (FIOF). FIOF is a full service oyster farm that has been selling oysters to restaurants, primarily in New York City, since 1981. In addition to market-sized oysters FIOF provides seed to other growers form the hatchery and nursery sites. When Steve and Sarah started FIOF in 1981 they were one of only a handful of farms in the Northeast. Steve has served on the Aquaculture Professional Advisory Committee since 2010 and has been instrumental in shaping the aquaculture program at Harbor School and the Billion Oyster Project Oyster Production Program.
Donald Merritt PhD is the Hatchery Program Director at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Studies Horne Point Laboratory Oyster Hatchery (HPL). Don and HPL have led the charge to restore the oyster population of the Chesapeake Bay. HPL is home to the largest oyster hatchery and remote setting facility on the east coast, they have averaged almost one billion oysters per year for the last five years. Don has served on the Aquaculture Professional Advisory Committee since 2012. Much of the work of BOP is informed by the Don’s work in the Chesapeake Bay.
Steering Committee and Advisory Board
Peter Malinowski (chair) Co-Founder and Director of BOP, New York Harbor Foundation
Murray Fisher Founder, New York Harbor School Co-Founder Billion Oyster Project & President, New York Harbor Foundation
Roland Lewis President and CEO, Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance
Carter Strickland Vice President Water and Natural Resources, HDR (former Director of NYCDEP)
Robert Newton Research Scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Alex Matheissen President, Blue Marble Project
Gregg Rivara Aquaculture Specialist and Suffolk County Marine Environmental Learning Center Director
Elizabeth Alter Assistant Professor of Biology, York College
James F. Lima President, James Lima Planning + Development
Jim Lodge Senior Scientist, Hudson River Foundation
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 212.458.0800 ext 6504 Mailing Address: 10 South St., Slip 7, NY, NY 10004 Site Address: Buildng #114 (The MAST Center) Governors Island NYC
Overview of the oyster life cycle
Oyster anatomy microscopy videos from UConn (amazing footage!)
Watch this video to learn everything about growing oysters in the hatchery from University of Maryland
teachers guide to the NY Harbor Estuary. Background and 16 sample lessons on NY/NJ harbor estuary, mainly science
US Army Corps of Engineers Hudson-Raritan Estuary Comprehensive Restoration Plan for New York Harbor Estuary - calls for 5000 acres of oyster reef by 2050
Harbor School Advanced Aquaculture student blog
Chesapeake Bay Oyster Restoration - a successful statewide initiative with more than a billion oysters restored over the past 20 years
Oyster Restoration Workgroup
Oyster Monitoring Guide
San Francisco Bay Living Shorelines Project
ORRP- NY Harbor Estuary - Phase I
Shellshocked: Saving Oysters to Save Ourselves (documentary)
NY Daily News article on BOP
Delaware Bay Oyster Restoration Curriculum by Lisa Calvo, Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory, Rutgers University. High quality teaching resource with many lessons replicable or easily adaptable to BOP and NY Harbor. (Booklet 1) K-8.
Delaware Bay Oyster Restoration Curriculum by Lisa Calvo, Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory, Rutgers University. (Booklet 2) K-8.
Delaware Bay Oyster Restoration Curriculum by Lisa Calvo, Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory, Rutgers University. (Booklet 3) K-8.
Fact Sheet for participating schools and citizen scientists
In depth documentary on east coast oyster reefs and restoration work
Western Florida State University
Living Breakwaters from Rebuild by Design on Vimeo.
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