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I've been doing some wikipedia binging and it's come to my realization that it may be in the Earth's best interest to raise the world oyster population as quickly as possible. The basis for this is for several reasons:

[They hold] promise for relieving pressure on land-based protein sources.

also,

[They] provide shoreline protection and sediment stabilization, nutrient cycling and sequestration, and habitat for other organisms.

and most importantly:

sources state that a single oyster can filter 24–96 liters a day (1–4 liters per hour). With 750,000 oysters in one acre, 18,000,000-72,000,000 liters of water can be filtered, removing most forms of particulate matter suspended in the water column. (Source)

What I'm curious about, however, is the potential downstream impacts of the overpopulation of oysters. They seem to have so many ecological benefits, I'd like to see if there's a hard detriment to everyone breeding thousands of oysters in their free time to help the ocean.

What I'm particularly concerned about is other filter feeders that may become threatened by a strong prevalence of the oyster population.

To summarize my question; is this a reasonable solution, and what potential risks exist should the world try to greatly increase the oyster populations where they exist currently already?


As @Fred pointed out in the comments, precautions would/should be taken to ensure endemic oysters are used to be as minimally invasive as possible, and responsibly bred for biodiversity to prevent viral catastrophe.

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  • $\begingroup$ this is definitly not the solution,we have a massive invasion of pacific oysters in the north of europe and this is at the same time as the population of the atlantic blue mussel population are colapsing,i am not saying the two are connected but they might be. $\endgroup$ – trond hansen Jun 18 at 16:16
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    $\begingroup$ If it were to be done I would advise using oysters endemic to the area where they would be used, to prevent imported oysters becoming an ecological threat/disaster. Be prepared for the oysters to be wiped out by viruses & other pathogens - it happens in other forms of intensive aquaculture. One problem I see is what happens to the oysters that have absorbed seaborne contaminants; how are they destroyed or processed so the contaminants aren't re-released into the environment again? $\endgroup$ – Fred Jun 18 at 16:18
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    $\begingroup$ There is a project in NYC to try to restore oysters. Goal is 1 billion oysters by 2035 and 100 acres of reefs. It is estimated that pre-Columbian NY harbor hosted 220,000 acres of oyster reefs! billionoysterproject.org $\endgroup$ – AllInOne Jun 18 at 19:42
  • $\begingroup$ You would need a massive amount of farms to even reach pre-industrial shellfish levels much less have further impact. $\endgroup$ – John Jun 18 at 19:47
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    $\begingroup$ @AllInOne Done, lemme know if you have anything you'd like me to add! $\endgroup$ – Erin B Nov 4 at 16:32
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According to @AllInOne from the comments: This is currently what a project in New York City is trying to do. Their listed goal on wikipedia is to get one billion live oysters in New York Harbor by 2035.

According to their website, they do this because of the following reasons:

  • Oysters have a remarkable ability to filter nitrogen pollution from water as they eat. This is a heroic feat, because excessive nitrogen triggers algal blooms that deplete the water of oxygen and create “dead zones.”

  • “Once all but extinct in New York City’s waters, the whales are undeniably back.” –Popular Science Oysters play a key role in attracting life. They earn their nickname as “ecosystem engineers” because we see biodiversity levels increase dramatically surrounding oyster reefs.

  • Oyster reefs can help to protect New York City from storm damage—softening the blow of large waves, reducing flooding, and preventing erosion.

the website also carries on to state that 1 million pounds of shells have also been recycled as a result of this initiative.

Other comments suggest that in order to prevent invasive species, one would want to do this with oysters that already exist in the region.

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