In the past 100 years, more than 85 percent of shellfish reefs have been lost globally as the result of human harvesting, loss of habitat, diseases and invasive species. Oyster reefs play a vital role in ecosystems as natural water filters, barriers against erosion and habitats for marine life.
Restoration of shellfish reefs is ongoing and BESE-elements (biodegradable elements for starting ecosystem) are being used to enhance restoration succes.
Recent research has shown that BESE-elements can improve shellfish reef restoration succes by:
- providing settlement substrate
- lowering predation pressure
Biology Professor Linda Walters from UCF uses oyster mats, made out of BESE-elements to succesfully restore oyster reefs in the indian river lagoon. Her research can be found here.
Moreover a recent publication shows the microbial breakdown properties of BESE-elements when used in oyster reef restoration and a 7-12% mass reduction over a 12 month period.
The paper can be found here and project photos are attached below.