In a seven-state program coordinated by various stakeholders, the “Supporting Oyster Aquaculture and Restoration” (SOAR) initiative is purchasing oysters from 100 farms and chucking them back into the ocean.
SOAR hopes that these mollusks will flex their mussels and restore twenty coastal reefs — cleaning water, mitigating flooding, and creating wild oyster habitats.
And the oystermen are all about it.
COVID’s reckoning: With the pandemic shutting down many raw oyster bars and other eateries, oyster farmers were left with an empty half-shell.
In New Jersey, SOAR will pay the aquaculturists 80% of the wholesale market price if they harvest the oysters from their cages and dump them onto the reefs.
Where this goes: By year-end, SOAR will spend $2 million purchasing 5 million oysters, helping the oystermen, and ensuring a promising future for the industry.