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4th Graders for Oyster Sanity

By Susannah Black
December 16, 2015

Becky Blumenthal’s fourth grade class at the Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn doesn’t just restore oysters– thanks to Blumenthal’s blend of civic and environmental instruction, they’re alert to policy issues that affect oyster restoration throughout the region.

In particular, they have been learning about New Jersey’s restrictions on oyster restoration.  These students know from their own experience the value of oyster restoration as hands-on marine science, but they have also tried to understand the concerns over poaching that had led New Jersey legislators to ban BOP-style restoration in Jersey waters.  Based on these perspectives, they wrote letters in which they described the environmental and educational benefits of restoration, and attempted to address the concerns while urging that New Jersey find a solution that would permit Jersey students to enjoy the same opportunities that these Brooklyn students do.

 

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So on December 8, Becky sent their letters to Commissioner Robert Martin of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. See below for those letters.  We urge, however, that you take some of their claims with a grain of salt.

Want to add your voice to theirs?  Go here to learn more and submit your comments by January 16, 2016.

 

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Becky Blumenthal

Berkeley Carroll School

Dear Commissioner Martin,
Our 4th Grade classes have been studying the Hudson River and have become involved in the Billion Oyster Project. Through this work, the students learned about the shellfish ban in New Jersey. The fourth graders were concerned about the learning experience that their New Jersey counterparts are missing out on, not to mention the missed cleaning opportunity of this shared waterway. Because the students do not yet have their own email accounts, I am sending the letters they wrote expressing their concern for this shared environmental concern. The letters are compiled below.

Thank you for your attention to this important environmental matter.

Best,

Becky Blumenthal
Lower School Science Teacher
The Berkeley Carroll School

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Dear Commissioner Martin,

I believe that you should get rid of the law no Oysters. I believe this because if we can’t put Oysters on your side of the river then we can’t clean the river as fast and here are some reasons I think you should get rid of the law.

  1. Oysters help get rid of the pollution that is in the water.
  2. Oysters make the water better for other animals.
  3. When Oysters stick together they make homes for other animals.
  4. And if you are really worried about pollution then help clean the water.

Sincerely,

Astrid

 

Dear Commissioner Martin,

I think doing this OYSTER Project is really good because the Hudson really needs to be cleaned. I don’t think anyone would poach an oyster if they knew it was too dirty to be eaten.

Oyster are really important to rivers, so it’s silly to ban them.

From Dean, a fourth grade student at Berkeley Carroll

 

Dear Commissioner Martin,

I believe the oyster ban should be reversed. Because oysters help reduce floods and help filter the water. And they help keep the water clean. In addition it was super fun and helpful to learn about oysters and witness this problem.

Sincerely,

Ellis

 

Dear Commissioner Martin,

I believe that New Jersey has banned oysters and I think that they should consider that, because we in New York have started the Billion Oyster Project and you should join us.

When I was starting the Billion Oyster Project I wasn’t interested, but now I am.

I studied the mobile trap and I really liked it. We found 1 oyster and it was really small, probably the smallest one there.

Sincerely,

Henry 

 

Dear Commissioner Martin,

I believe that the oysters can really help the water. They make the pollution go away. I also believe this because we have oysters and we are checking them every six times in a year and we are checking how big they grow and the smallest was 8 mm and the biggest was 69 mm and then we will check it in the spring. In addition we want to get oysters in your section to make the Hudson River clean.

Sincerely,

Maddy

 

Dear Commissioner Martin,

I am a 4th Grade student at Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn, New York City. I write you because I’ve heard about the law that New Jersey has made that banned oysters. I don’t agree to that law. I want you to try to change this, and I’ve done some research about this issue.

I understand that you are worried about somebody stealing some oysters and selling them for money. I understand that you are worried that the person who buys that oyster will get sick. That’s all true. Except that the oysters are in metal cages and it would be very hard to get them out.

If New Jersey allowed oysters, it would probably interact with The Billion Oyster Project, and some schools in New Jersey would have a restoration station like my school. It would be a great opportunity for kids to learn a lot of stuff and interact with live oysters. Kids will learn how to collect this data and put in down on paper. These lucky kids will have important information about the Hudson River and learn a lot about oysters. This will smarten up their brains, and this will lead to those kids becoming important people in New Jersey’s history. Those kids could be famous all because of a little oyster restoration station.

I have learned that in the middle of the Hudson River, is the division between New Jersey and New York. In that case, the Hudson River also belongs to New Jersey, as much as the Hudson River belongs to New York. It’s your river too! Help restore it! This could be a big step in history. The Hudson has importance and New Jersey and New York has to work together to make that importance matter. Think about it. You can make a change.

 

From,

Mitra

Berkeley Carroll School 

 

Dear Mr. Commissioner Martin,

I believe that Jersey kids should learn about oysters.

Oysters keep the water clean and filter the water.

Oysters help lower the floods and waves, so the banks don’t really flood.

I believe this because my class went to a place where my science teacher, Ms.Blumenthal made a oyster cage where we study the oysters.

In addition to that I believe that the students in New Jersey should learn about oysters and observe them too.

Sincerely,

Caroline

 

Dear Commissioner Martin,

I believe that you should let oysters back in the New Jersey waters    .

I believe this because first of all kids don’t get to learn the same things that kids in New York get to learn. This is because if there are no oysters in the New Jersey waters than they can’t study oysters and it was really fun and it was a great learning experience. Second of all oysters prevent floods make water cleaner and make waves smaller.

Sincerely,

Charles

 

Dear Commissioner Martin,

I believe the oysters should be allowed to grow in the water.

I believe this because if we didn’t have oysters then we wouldn’t have clean water.

In addition I learned that some are bigger than others.

Sincerely,

Hayden

 

Dear Commissioner Martin,

I believe that oysters clean the water and prevent the waves from getting to big.

I believe this because I have heard and seen proof.

In addition I think that you should not ban oysters from N.J.’s part of the Hudson River because if you did then the river would get polluted and dirty.

Sincerely,

Naiyah

 

Dear Commissioner Martin,

I believe oysters should grow because I learned something from our oyster project

I believe this because I learned how to measure an oyster and I learned that sea squirts existed.

In addition students in New Jersey are not getting this experience. 

Sincerely,

Samuel 

 

Dear Commissioner Martin,

I believe that oysters should not be banned.

I believe this because it is a very small chance poachers will go through all the work to get oysters.

In addition to that they won’t make much money and are in metal cages that are very heavy.

Sincerely,

Wyatt

 

Dear Mr. Martin,

Some of the facts that we learned are oysters prevent hurricanes and floods and they clean the water that they are in. Oysters are born male and some turn into female. The Harbor High School is doing a Billion Oyster Project.

Some experiences that we had are that we learned how to measure oysters and we learned how to measure the turbidity of the water. We also learned what grew on the oysters.

Some of our personal thoughts are we liked doing the oyster field trip because we got to learn about oysters with our friends.

Sincerely,

Claudia

 

Dear Commissioner Martin, 

I believe that you should put oysters in the water.

I believe this  because it makes the water very clean, they reduce flooding from hurricanes and they provide a habitat for other animal that live in the Hudson River.

In addition, putting in the oysters would make science research easier.

Also, if you put the oysters in the water then the water will be clean so it won’t really matter if someone eats the oysters.

Sincerely,

Delaney

 

Dear Commissioner Martin,

I believe that you should let oysters live in your part of the Hudson River, but not let people eat oysters. Water is polluted and oysters can help clean it, the water is so dirty that some oysters grow on tires and other trash and also when there is a hurricane, they can suck in some of the water.

I believe this  because the Jersey part of the river is much dirtier than New York part. 

In addition, schools can have field trips to the oysters and get research about them. 

Sincerely,

Elizabeth

 

Dear Commissioner Martin,

I believe that oysters should be cleaned but they will help the water and will help the coral [i.e. the reefs –ed.].

I believe this because my mom loves oysters but I tell her to stop because oysters help the environment.

In addition I think that can oysters save floods and that’s why you should lift the ban.

Sincerely,

Emma

 

Dear Commissioner Martin,

I believe that you should put oysters because they’re filter feeders. That means that they clean the water around them. If you put them in, in a few years the water will be clean to eat oysters. I believe this because I took a field trip to the River Project the taught me all about oysters. In addition to being filter feeders kids like me who love oysters need to learn more about oysters and its unfair to those kids who love oysters but can’t see them because they’re banned. Also they reduce flooding caused by hurricanes so you won’t need to pay as much for flood repair. 

Sincerely,

Nicholas

 

Dear Commissioner Martin,

I believe that oysters should be put on the New Jersey side, and you should not be worried about pollution going into oysters.

I believe this because oysters will make the polluted waters a better place. Oysters will make the water cleaner, provide habitats for other animals, and reduce floods caused by hurricanes. 

In addition I think you should lift the oyster ban to make the waters of NJ a lot cleaner. 

Sincerely,

Spencer

 

Dear Commissioner Martin,

I believe that we need oysters in the Hudson River because they do many good things for the environment like: Oysters are filter feeders, that means that they clean the Hudson River. They filter feed the plankton in the water, the plankton is what makes the water dirty looking. 

In addition, the oysters attach to each other and create homes for small animals like: Very small crabs and fish.

I think that you should lift the ban on putting oysters in the Hudson River. Instead I think you should ban eating and fishing for the oysters from the Hudson River.

Sincerely,

Lily

 

Dear Commissioner Martin, 

I believe that oysters help the river in a lot of ways.

I believe this because they clean the river, they can reduce flooding, and they provide animals a habitat.

In addition they can be used for science. I think you should make a law where you can only eat cleaned oysters from supermarkets. You wonder how they do all these things: the reefs are so big that they make the waves smaller. They are natural filters and their reefs are so sturdy that the waves don’t even move them so they get bigger and bigger until it sort of creates a coral reef and fish live in coral reefs and that is how the oysters do it.

Sincerely,

Ian

 

Dear Commissioner Martin, 

I believe that you should lift the ban of no oyster growing on the NJ side of the Hudson River. Oysters are a very important part of the shellfish community and they do many things that you may not be aware of, or you might very well be aware of. Oysters help us in many ways. For example they prevent lots of flooding like maybe the effects from Hurricane Sandy would have been a lot smaller and less damaging if there would have been more oyster reefs. They also give other animals a habitat to live in and feel safe. Like you, you probably have a place to go and sleep and feel safe and that’s exactly what the oyster habitats provide for these animals. I know that you are deeply concerned about the oyster farmers illegally farming the oysters. So I hope you can do what you can to lift this ban. 

Sincerely,

Margot

 

Dear Commissioner Martin,

I believe that you should legalize oysters in New Jersey.

I believe this because oyster reefs reduce floods, they filter the water, give a habitats for animals and help students learn. You think that poachers will steal and sell oysters but New York has been releasing oysters into the water and so far, they haven’t had your poacher problem.

In addition you can put cameras on the shores in case of poachers.

Sincerely,

Noah

 

Dear Commissioner Martin,

I am from the Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn, NYC. I think that you should have oysters in the NJ river, because oysters are wonderful creatures. They prove to be very helpful by themselves, and of course a wonderful delicacy. They filter water into clean water, and also produce other plankton and interesting creatures. I know you have your reasons, very goods ones in fact. I agree very much why you don’t want oysters in your river, and I think it’s very considerate of you to worry about the people eating the pollution from them. But maybe we can come up with ways improve and stop the pollution. The security, the materials, where they live and how they live is also very important ways to fix errors that produce pollution. 

They also lessen damage from hurricanes. I saw the effect on New Jersey from Hurricane Sandy, it was very intense and we can hope that it won’t happen again with the oysters’ help. As well as floods, they prove to be as helpful.

I myself have studied the Billion Oyster Project, and went on many field trips to the East and Hudson River. I enjoyed it very much, and I think it would be a real pleasure for the other kids in New Jersey to have the educational opportunity. If they learn about them they could also even help out in the river to improve the ways of oysters. And if you look over what’s causing the people to pollute the oysters, we can try to improve it into other ways of doing things without interference with pollution.

Please consider the option.

Sincerely,

Clementine

 

Dear Commissioner Martin,

I believe you should lift the ban on oysters because they help clean the water. The Oysters create a habitat for other sea animals. If you have a oyster reef it will block the floods from being so intense.

In addition if you had a reef when Sandy came less damage may have happened. My mum loves oysters more than any thing. They are live animals and you are taking them out of their habitats. You can use them for science research.

Sincerely,

Niko 

 

Dear Commissioner Martin,

I believe the oyster law should be banned.

I believe this because students and other people in New Jersey should be allow to help restore the oyster population.

Oysters are very helpful not only to clean the water but also a home for sea animals like fish. 

But because raw sewage is being dumped into the water, oysters are not safe to eat anymore.

And selling oysters and making people sick .

In addition the oyster law should be banned.

Sincerely,

Jayden

 

Dear Commissioner Martin,

I believe that children should do research about oysters in New Jersey. 

I believe this because there is a lot of things that are important about oysters like oysters clean the water.

In addition all the research that I have learned is so amazing, and that is why I believe that children should do research about oysters in New Jersey.

Sincerely,

Charlie

 

Dear Commissioner Martin, 

I believe that children in NJ can do research. 

I believe this because it is for their own learning and they should be able to do it.

In addition oysters help clean and filter the water.

Oysters only hurt you if you eat them so just tell people to not eat them. The oysters are just polluted, so just tell people not to eat them or touch them. You can avoid people eating them by just letting them free, out of the cages.

Sincerely,

Isabel

 

Dear Commissioner Martin, 

I think that New Jersey should allow to put oysters in the Hudson River.

I believe this because oysters are good and can filter the Hudson River.

Do you want New Jersey’s side of the Hudson River to be a rubbish heap? 

Then please allow oysters in the Hudson! 

If we have oysters in the river, then if we get another hurricane like Hurricane Sandy, then the oysters will shield us from the waves.

Also, if we clean the river now, then in the future, we can eat the oysters in the Hudson.

In addition, I think that New Jersey students should have the same great learning experience as us learning about oysters. 

Sincerely,

A New York 4th grader

 

Dear Commissioner Martin,

Why are you taking oysters out of the water if you are so involved in helping pollution? Oysters help the environment too. I understand that you are cautious, but we could discover something revolutionary if you just allow people to put oysters in water for research. We could find out that oysters have a vitamin that helps cure cancer or AIDS. NJ kids should get the same learning experience that we had. If you want your kids to grow up to be something that benefits the economy, like a scientist, you should let their teachers teach them all aspects of science.

Sincerely,

Teddy 

 

Dear Commissioner,

I believe that the oysters are helping the water become clearer.

How they help is that they are filter feeders so they clean the water. 

I believe that the oysters cages are for NJ schools learning only.

Thank you for reading this letter.

Sincerely,

Yesehak (ye-se-hak)

 

Dear Commissioner Martin,

I believe that the oyster ban should be lifted.

I believe this because oyster reefs create a barrier that prevents things like Hurricane Sandy from hitting the shoreline. Also oysters have filter feeding which eventually could make for more commercial activities. A matter a fact my teacher swam the Hudson River. And if we have more oysters we might be able to turn pollution around. 

Sincerely

Charles

 

Dear Commissioner Martin,

I believe the law about oysters isn’t a good law because what are the chances of a person going on an unstealthy boat, steal oysters out of reinforced iron bars, most too small to eat and many citizens aware of oysters! Oysters also filter the water.

I believe this because I learned it in a school on a field trip visiting the Billion Oyster Project.

In addition students from schools may help restoring oysters if the law is removed. 

Sincerely

Oliver 

 

Dear Commissioner Martin,

We are two 4th grade students from the Berkeley Carroll School and we’ve had the chance to go to the River Project and study oysters and river for the day. When we were there we learned about oysters and the conditions that they need to live in. We think you should allow oysters back in the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. They can make waves smaller during hurricanes which can prevent flooding. Overall we really care about the oysters and the river and we think they shouldn’t end up in the dump.

Sincerely,

Molly and Friend

 

Dear Commissioner Martin,

I want you to lift the ban on oysters in the Hudson River. I believe that we should help and care for the oysters. They are interesting animals to the whole entire world. They also help the environment and if the environment was not clean that is bad for everyone.

I believe this because the oysters are helpful and important to the water and peoples tummys. They take care and clean the water and help make the floods less severe that can cause hurricanes. They provide habitats for other animals. In addition they help kids learn, actually everyone. These are REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY COOL. Thank you for listening about my reason about the oysters. Please lift the ban. 

Sincerely,

Ruby 

 

Dear Commissioner Martin,

I believe that the oyster ban law is not good.                           

I believe this because I learned how useful oysters could be. Like how oysters could clean the water and also make the waves smaller so we are more protected from flooding during storms. It’s true it isn’t good to sell bad oysters to people, but they are good in other ways. It isn’t good to put them all in a trash dump.

Sincerely,

Nico

 

Dear Commissioner Bob Martin,

I believe that the oysters should not be in Navy gun range because they could get shot off their reef even though they are cemented on, we don’t know how strong the oyster’s cement is, so a gun may be able to destroy the oyster reef and their home. The oysters should be cared for and have a part in taking care of our world, the water, and they shouldn’t end up in the dump.                                

I believe that people are very smart animals and that we can make smart decisions on what we eat and what we shouldn’t eat. People are very smart and educated animals and would know not to eat from the river because the may get very sick or they may even die. We are smart and we should make smart decisions about what to eat.

In addition New Jersey students should have a chance to help the oysters and an opportunity to save their habitat, their reef and their species. The trips to the River Project and the Hudson River helped me learn about the oysters before they were over fished and I think that the New Jersey students should have a chance to learn about the oyster before they were over fished.

Best Wishes,

Sarah 

A Berkeley Carroll 4th grader

P.S. I really think you should save the oysters and not put them in the dump!