There’s a new initiative that could help growers, the ecosystem, and coastal communities—it’s called “SOAR”.
During 2020, business has been hard on shellfish farmers, with sales to restaurants way down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That has left many farmers holding oysters even as they grew beyond the ideal size for the half-shell market, and has created a major dilemma over what to do with those oversized bivalves.
Now, there’s a new option on the table. Under a partnership called Supporting Oyster Aquaculture and Restoration (SOAR), eligible growers in seven states—Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Washington—can sell their overgrown oysters for use in reef restoration projects.
How oyster reefs help coastal ecosystems
Oyster reefs help protect shorelines, filter water, and provide habitat for wildlife. Sadly, U.S. native oyster populations have declined to a fraction of their historic levels because of over harvesting, pollution, and habitat destruction. But rebuilding shellfish habitats is one of the most promising opportunities for reviving coastal ecosystems, and states’ investments in oyster reef restoration have yielded results in recent years.
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