Talisker to aid oyster reef restoration project in New York

Diageo-owned Scotch distiller Talisker has partnered with the Billion Oyster Project, which collects used oyster shells from New York restaurants to build reefs in the harbour.

Talisker pledged support to the nonprofit organisation earlier this year, the charity’s activities were temporarily suspended in March due to Covid-19.

Its shell collection programme will restart in August. In a typical year, the charity collects 400,000 pounds of oyster shells from over 75 restaurants in New York, which instead of heading to landfill sites, are recycled and used to construct oyster reefs.

Due to the disruption this year, the team is expecting to collect around 200,000 pounds of shells.

This summer, the organisation is carrying out an ambitious project to fill 200 gabions (wire baskets) with 500,000 pounds of oyster shells and 30 million oysters, placed at the mouth of the Bronx River in Soundview. The company said this project alone will more than double its restoration efforts in New York harbour.

To date, the charity has collected some 1.6m pounds of used shells and planted more than 45m oysters in waters off New York City.

Madeline Achtel, deputy director of the Billion Oyster Project, said: “We are so thankful to have Talisker’s support of the Billion Oyster Project’s shell collection program. Not only are they helping us collect valuable would-be discarded shells to grow our reefs, but Talisker is also working with us to educate the public on why it’s so important to steward our local waterways.”

The charity has already installed 14 oyster reefs across an area covering over seven acres.

Talisker is not the only Scotch distiller to become involved in oyster conservation. In 2018 Highland distiller Glenmorangie announced it was helping to reintroduce 20,000 oysters to the Dornoch Firth for the first time in a century. 

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