Fishers Islanders Lead Global Oyster Revolution at Billion Oyster Project

by Jane Ahrens

May 13, 2019
By Sarah Malinowski
Fishers Island Oyster Farm

The Billion Oyster Project (BOP) annual party and fundraiser was held in New York last Thursday, May 9. Many Fishers Island folks attended and it was a smashing success. The party has become known as the “oyster prom”.

Supporter Dicky Riegel loved the Fishers Island associations that this photo evokes. Left to right: co-owner of West Robins Oyster Company Walker Lourie, 2019 BOP shucking champ James Geoghegan, and Fishers Island Oyster Farm co-owner Sarah Malinowski. Photo Credit D. Riegel

James Geoghegan, (Williams School and Colby College graduate) worked for Fishers Island Oyster Farm for a couple of years after college. He has made a name for himself in the oyster shucking world. James won the overall shucking contest this year. He came in third for speed but had no penalties, so he won. All good shuckers will say that an oyster tastes better when it is properly shucked.

Walker Lourie is on the left. He worked at Fishers Island Oyster Farm after he graduated from Hamilton College and now is co-owner of West Robins Oyster Company in Southampton, NY. West Robins was one of the 40 farms sharing their oysters and celebrating the Billion Oyster Project last week.

The Billion Oyster Project co-founded by Murray Fisher and Pete Malinowski – both Fishers Islanders – is an ecosystem restoration and education project aimed at restoring one billion live oysters to New York Harbor. Their goal is to reignite a passion and appreciation for NY Harbor and support the next generation of environmental stewards. BOP’s hands-on science of reef construction and monitoring is accomplished through school, restoration-based education, citizen science, restaurant shell collection, and volunteer programs.

In fact, “The Billion Oyster Project is becoming a model for urban marine ecosystem restoration all over the world’, remarked Murray Fisher. He will be speaking in Hong Kong in June where they want to replicate what BOP is doing in New York Harbor.

NYC is surrounded by water! In the 17th century, the harbor floor was fully covered with oyster reefs. By the early 20th century, oysters became functionally extinct in the harbor due too over-harvesting and pollution. Thanks to the oyster shell collection program managed by The Lobster Place and over 70 cooperating NYC restaurants combined with the Billion Oyster Project, eating a dozen oysters now has a tremendous positive environmental and social impact.

Annually, BOP brings students from the NY Harbor School out to Fishers Island to get real farm work experience. Learn more here: Screening of the Discovery Channel’s documentary TAKE BACK THE HARBOR celebrating Billion Oyster Project and Harbor School on Fishers this summer.

“There is a lot to celebrate about the Fishers Island associations and influence on what is happening in New York City! To think that the actions of a couple of Fishers Islanders will strongly influence the marine ecosystem of one of the world’s most important harbors is super exciting!” ~ Dicky Riegel

Featured Photo

USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay. Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

A Fishers Island Community Center Program and the accompanying Fog Horn eNewsletter serve as the communications resource for the Fishers Island community. The content – news, calendar, links and photos, milestones, ads, and more create a clear image of Fishers to those on and off the island.

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