New York City officials announced a plan yesterday to restock New York Harbor with oysters using old toilets to create their habitat.

Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection said porcelain from 5,000 recycled toilets will be installed to provide oyster beds and breeding grounds. Fifty thousand live oysters will also be lowered into the sea.

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Oysters once thrived in the city’s waters. Scientists estimate half the world’s oysters once lived in New York Harbor through the 17th century.

Their populations declined from pollution, and Dutch colonists began overharvesting them.

Officials note that oysters returned to New York Harbor on their own in the past few decades, after the passage of the 1972 Clean Water Act led to healthier waterways. But de Blasio’s office still labeled the species “functionally extinct.”

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The mollusk deposit will provide a boon to local ecosystems.

“This oyster bed will serve multiple purposes — protecting our wetlands from erosion, naturally filtering our water and providing a home for our sea dwellers are just a few,” said de Blasio in a statement (Ben Guarino, Washington Post, Sept. 7).

Reprinted with permission from E&E Publishing

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