Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino and Town Clerk Rich LaMarca joined with members of the Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Protection Committee to celebrate another successful oyster gardening program. In what is becoming an annual demonstration of another healthy and productive summer, officials from the Town of Oyster Bay, Village of Laurel Hollow and Village of Oyster Bay Cove joined with environmental groups and residents representing 150+ oyster gardens from the North Shore Oyster Gardening Program to clean and measure one final time before placing them in the nearby spawner sanctuary.
Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino said, “The Town of Oyster Bay is proud to work with our residents to keep the oyster in Oyster Bay, making sure our favorite shellfish is not just part of our storied history but a vital part of the Town’s future. The Town of Oyster’s own shellfish hatchery is adding to this effort by producing millions of clams and oysters annually to further protect and strengthen our waterways.”
Engaging hundreds of residents in environmental stewardship and seeding 200,000 oysters is only part of the story. As a direct result of the North Shore Oyster Gardening program’s efforts in the just the past year the Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Protection Committee, which sponsors this effort, has:
- Facilitated Long Island Sound Study funded research to monitor the spawner sanctuary and identify locations for additional sanctuaries in Oyster Bay and Cold Spring Harbor,
- Pinpointed and is addressing sources of pollution in Cold Spring Harbor, and;
- Inspired Hempstead Harbor to the west and the Huntington/Northport complex to the east to develop similar community oyster gardening programs.
Town of Oyster Bay Councilwoman Michele Johnson said, “The Town of Oyster’s new shell recycling program will provide another opportunity for local restaurants and residents to support the local environment. The recycled shell material will be used to enhance the aquaculture efforts like the North Shore Oyster Gardening program and prepare suitable bay bottom for natural recruitment of oysters while reducing waste going to our landfills.”
Mayor of Laurel Hollow Daniel DeVita said, “The Village of Laurel Hollow is proud to have been a part of this program from the beginning. These oysters will immediately enhance the bottom habitat for other marine organisms and continue filtering the water. In a year or so they could be filtering up to 50 gallons of water each or millions of gallons per day in total. That is incredibly important to the quality of life of our residents who cherish the beach, boating and fishing to which water quality and healthy habitats are essential.”
Heather Johnson, Executive Director of Friends of the Bay said, “Friends of the Bay is excited to be a part of the success of this program in generating more advocates for our local waters. We are also proud our water quality monitoring program can assist researchers in supporting the local oyster population.”
Rob Crafa, Coordinator of the Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Protection Committee remarked, “It is inspiring to see the enthusiasm and dedication of so many members of the community tend to the oysters week after week and support the growth of this program over the last six seasons! Their efforts have supported grants to monitor the existing spawner sanctuary and locate new ones, investigations to determine pollution sources impacting our beaches and shellfish beds and initiation of similar programs in Hempstead and Huntington/Northport harbors.”
Since 2017 the North Shore Oyster Gardening program, a project led by the Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Protection Committee, has trained, equipped, and supported hundreds of volunteers raising oysters to enhance our local waters, not for consumption. Each volunteer, family, or organization sponsors and tends to one or more “oyster gardens” which are cages containing up to 1,000 oysters. The gardens are hung between buoys at one of four community gardens in Oyster Bay and Cold Spring Harbor. Volunteers support every aspect of the program from building the cages in April and May to bi-weekly cleaning and measuring of the oysters from June – September. During this time under the care of the dedicated volunteers the oysters grow from 12-14 mm in size (about the size of your pinky nail) to over 70 mm (slightly less than three inches)!
Volunteers and organizations interested in becoming an oyster gardener or sponsoring oyster gardens in 2023 are encouraged to contact Rob Crafa, Coordinator of the Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Protection Committee at 631-848-2090 or firstname.lastname@example.org.