Project Ports: Promoting Oyster Restoration Through Schools is a unique community-based restoration program that gives K-12 students an opportunity to experience environmental stewardship first hand as they help restore critical Delaware Bay oyster habitat.
Developed and coordinated by the Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory, Rutgers University, Project PORTS utilizes the oyster as a vehicle to acquaint students, educators and the broader community with the Bayshore and the methodologies and science of a real world oyster restoration project.
Project PORTS is founded on the belief that stewardship grows from an underlying appreciation and understanding of the environment.
Science in the Classroom
Project PORTS scientists and educators provide hands-on learning activities for partner school students, teaching important scientific concepts and highlighting the local significance of the oyster resource. Project PORTS curriculum activities address national curriculum content standards.
Project PORTS community-based restoration project puts students in direct contact with the Delaware Bay environment and extends lessons from the classroom to a real-world application. Students and community volunteers assist Rutgers scientists in restoring oyster reef habitat by constructing shell bags that are deployed in the field to serve as a settlement surface for oyster larvae. The shell bags and the millions of oysters that settle on them will form the foundation of an oyster reef and will help support a healthy marine ecosystem.
Click HERE to Explore Project PORTS Curriculum Guides
Project PORTS is conducted in partnership with Rutgers Aquaculture Innovation Center, The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, The Nature Conservancy, US Fish & Wildlife Service and Project PORTS Partner Schools.
The Oyster is a keystone estuarine organism recognized for its ecological role in improving water quality, creating complex structural habitat, and enhancing fisheries production. The oyster has also served as a principal fishery, shaping the economy and culture of communities along the Delaware Bay shore and other coastal areas.
During the last century, dramatic declines in oyster habitat have occurred. Oyster reefs are among the most imperilled habitats on earth, making their restoration an important goal worldwide.
Since 2007 thousands of students and community volunteers have participated in Project PORTS restoration activities. They have seeded more than 29 million oysters on targeted Delaware Bay fisheries and conservation sites. More recently, Project PORTS has expanded to support oyster restoration along New Jersey’s Atlantic Coast.
Project PORTS has been made possible through the support of the following: the DuPont Clear into the Future Initiative, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation funds, The Nature Conservancy, NJ Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership, The National Partnership between NOAA’s Community-based Restoration Program and Restore America’s Estuaries, Conservation Resources Inc., National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Delaware Estuary and Watershed Grant Program, BP Foundation, New Jersey Conservation Fund, Cumberland County Improvement Authority, and the membership of the American Littoral Society, New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium, Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve, and the Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.