Energy & Environment
Military turns to oyster reefs to protect against storms
MIDDLETOWN, N.J. — Earle Naval Weapons Station, where the Navy loads some of America’s most sophisticated weapons onto warships, suffered $50 million worth of damage in Superstorm Sandy. Now the naval pier is fortifying itself with some decidedly low-tech protection: oysters.
The facility has allowed an environmental group to plant nearly a mile of oyster reefs about a quarter-mile off its shoreline to serve as a natural buffer to storm-driven wave damage.
Other military bases are enlisting the help of oysters, too. In June, environmental groups and airmen established a reef in the waters of Elgin Air Force Base Reservation in Florida, and more are planned nearby. Oysters also help protect Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia.
Three oyster reefs protect the USS Laffey museum in South Carolina. And military installations in Alabama and North Carolina have dispatched their enlisted personnel to help build oyster reefs in off-base coastal sites.
They are among hundreds of places around the U.S. and the world where oyster reefs are being planted primarily as storm-protection measures. And a bill just introduced in Congress would give coastal communities $100 million over the next five years to create “living shorelines” that include oyster reefs.
US Navy uses Oyster Reefs to Fortify Piers