Ocean Blog

Native Oysters to Improve Water Quality in Pearl Harbor

June 4, 2019, 9:45 AM HST
* Updated June 4, 9:08 AM
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Black-lip Pearl Oyster. PC: https://visitpearlharbor.org/hawaiian-oysters-return-to-pearl-harbor/

The first native oysters are ready to take the plunge into their new home at Pearl Harbor, according to a June 3, 2019, press release from the the U.S. Navy.

Earlier this year, the Pacific Aquaculture Coastal Resources Center (PACRC) at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, U.S. Navy, and O‘ahu Waterkeeper joined forces to use native species of shellfish to improve water clarity and quality in the Pearl Harbor estuary.

The project, based on a partnership with O’ahu Waterkeepers and PACRC, plans to use two species of oyster native to Pearl Harbor: Dendostrea sandvicensis (Hawaiian Oyster) and Pinctada margaritifera
(Black-lip Pearl Oyster).

The project builds on the successful feasibility study conducted by the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Aquatic Resources, using a nonnative species, Crassostrea gigas (known as the Pacific Oyster), as a tool to improve clarity and quality of waters within Pearl Harbor.

Native oysters filter between 20 and 45 gallons of water per day depending on their size, removing harmful pollutants including bacteria, heavy metals, oil, microplastics and sunscreen chemicals, improving water clarity and quality.

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“This project will further the Navy’s environmental stewardship activities in Pearl Harbor and hopefully lead to long-lasting positive effects on the harbor through sustained augmentation of oyster beds,” said Cory Campora, Navy’s natural resources manager.

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The oysters produced by the project are for restoration only, not for consumption. Commercially farmed oysters in other near shore areas of O‘ahu are safe to eat because the waters they are grown in are regularly tested by the Hawai‘i State Department of Health.

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