Nutrient Bioextraction combines growing and harvesting shellfish and seaweed for the purpose of removing nitrogen and other nutrients from coastal waters. Nutrient bioextraction can also provide economic benefits. Since 2009, the Long Island Sound Study has promoted efforts to bring nutrient bioextraction to Long Island Sound. In 2018, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and NEIWPCC with support from LISS hired a bioextraction coordinator to implement a Bioextraction Initiative.
Bren Smith harvests sugar kelp in his seaweed/oyster farm off the Thimble Islands in Branford. Smith started seaweed farming as a result of research being conducted by scientists in the Sound. Photo by Ron Gatreau.
The Initiative provides information to decision-makers to help them develop guidelines needed to facilitate public and private seaweed and shellfish farming and harvest operations in their coastal waters (see Nutrient Bioextraction Initiative fact sheet). The project is managed by the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission, in collaboration with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Long Island Regional Planning Council, with funding from the Long Island Sound Study.
Reducing nutrient inputs is a priority for many estuary programs in the United States, including Long Island Sound, Chesapeake Bay, and the Gulf of Mexico. By reducing nutrients in coastal waters, states and federal agencies hope to reduce widespread and recurring problems with algal blooms, loss of seagrass, and hypoxia (low dissolved oxygen). Nutrient bioextraction can complement existing programs (such as using advanced treatment methods to remove nitrogen from wastewater treatment plant sewage discharges into the Sound). It is the only method available to remove nitrogen after it has entered the Sound.
The Long Island Sound Seaweed Bioextraction Symposium, held virtually over two days from May 18-19, 2022, brought together speakers and participants to discuss opportunities and challenges for a bioextraction industry within Long Island Sound. Recordings of the symposium are available online. Learn more.
The New York and Connecticut Shellfish and Seaweed Aquaculture Viewer is an online ArcGIS map that provides spatial information for all of New York’s Marine and Coastal District and Connecticut’s Coastal Area to aid in identifying potential locations for commercial shellfish and seaweed aquaculture and nutrient bioextraction operations. Learn more.
Find where LISS funded bioextraction projects since 2011. Learn more.
Nutrient bioextraction projects taking place in Long Island Sound and elsewhere along the East Coast provide case studies of practical government and private sector applications. Learn more.
Bioextraction projects started by the Long Island Sound Study and its partners nearly over a decade ago off Hunts Point in the South Bronx and in two sites in Connecticut have initiated interest in testing for the effectiveness of ribbed mussels and seaweed in removing nitrogen from the local environment. Learn more.
Ecological, economic, and other models in a research project show that oyster aquaculture in Long Island Sound compared favorably to existing nutrient reduction methods, in terms of both the cost and effectiveness of nitrogen removal. Oyster aquaculture has the added benefit of providing a sustainable source of local seafood. Learn more.
For more information about the Nutrient Bioextraction Initiative, contact the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Water, at [email protected].
Nutrient Bioextraction Initiative Fact Sheet (2024) – Describes current initiative in Long Island Sound.
What is Nutrient Bioextraction? (2010) – Explains nutrient bioextraction and initial bioextraction initiative.
Discover where all bioextraction projects funded through the Long Island Sound Study have taken place with an interactive map and table. Credit: Kristin Kraseski
A Guide to Marine Shellfish Aquaculture Permitting in New York was released in 2022 through NEIWPCC. It outlines permitting steps and regulatory expectations for prospective, new, and existing participants in New York’s marine shellfish aquaculture industry. It includes information regarding federal, state, and local roles in the permitting process, and copies of permit application forms, as well as sections on best management practices, shellfish sanitation, local leasing programs, and other related topics.
A Guide to Marine Aquaculture Permitting in Connecticut was released in 2019 through Connecticut Sea Grant and the Connecticut Aquaculture Permitting Work Group.
Journal citations with abstractions of bioextraction projects in the northeast, including Long Island Sound. See pdf.
In 2009, the Long Island Sound Study held a workshop to learn more about topics related to nutrient bioextraction from experts around the world and to discuss opportunities for nutrient bioextraction in Long Island Sound. See bioextraction workshop.
Kelp: It’s What’s For Dinner
Focuses on GreenWave training new kelp farmers, bioextraction, and environmental benefits of farming kelp. See video.
A Nasty Tasting Shellfish Could Be the Job for Cleaning Rivers
Report on a published article in a science journal that describes the ecological benefits of harvesting ribbed mussels based on research from the Bronx River pilot study. See Economist article. | Science Magazine article
Valuing Shellfish Beyond Market
Describes research in Greenwich Harbor to identify the value of shellfish resource when shellfish is used to remove nitrogen from coastal waters. See news release.
Can Seaweed Cut Methane Emissions on Dairy Farms?
Adding seaweed to cattle feed may significantly reduce methane emissions from dairy cows. See article.
The Climate-Friendly Vegetable You Ought to Eat
New York Times food writer describes the nutritional and cooking benefits of kelp. See article.
Oyster Farms Make Slight Improvement In Water Quality
Researchers found that oyster farms in the lower Chesapeake Bay had slightly positive impacts on water quality. See article.
The New York and Connecticut’s Aquaculture Viewer is an online interactive map that provides in-depth spatial information about New York’s and Connecticut’s marine and coastal waters. Learn more.
Take a look at LISS’s first bioextraction projects (involving harvesting mussels and kelp in the East River in Bronx and kelp near Bridgeport Harbor in Bridgeport, CT). See photo gallery.