How many acres of oyster restoration have been initiated?
More than 26 acres of oyster restoration have been initiated since 2000—15.5 of those acres since 2011. Sedimentation hampers success at most but not all sites.
Unfortunately, in many cases, these restoration sites have struggled to remain viable, primarily due to burial by fine sediments (sedimentation).60 Table 19.1 shows monitoring results for seven different restoration sites; in four of the seven sites, shell cover has decreased since initial construction. Only one site showed an increase in shell cover.
Monitoring of these sites suggests several keys to successful future restoration, including: 1) build reefs to achieve greater vertical height to guard against burial by sediments and 2) select sites as close as possible to a natural reef. Recent UNH research showed that recruitment (new oyster larvae settling) decreased significantly as distance from a native natural reef increased.61
Oyster aquaculture (i.e., oyster farms) in the Great Bay Estuary has increased steadily since 2011, with 22 aquaculture harvest licenses issued in 2016, as compared to only five in 2011. In 2016, NH Fish and Game estimates that over 180,000 oysters were harvested from aquaculture activities.