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Native oyster living shoreline project at the Port of San Diego receives key approval

February 12, 2021

The California Coastal Commission has unanimously approved a Port Master Plan Amendment (PMPA) that allows the Port of San Diego to partner with the California State Coastal Conservancy to pilot a native oyster living shoreline. The project will be done next to the Chula Vista Wildlife Reserve in south San Diego Bay to increase biodiversity and protect the shoreline from sea level rise.

Living shorelines rely on natural elements, such as oysters or plants, to replace traditional hard armoring, such as rip rap revetment and sea walls, to stabilize a shoreline. They offer cost-effective resilience in the face of sea level rise because of their ability to naturally grow and adapt over time.

The project is now expected to be approved by the Board of Port Commissioners with installation possibly starting as early as spring. The goal is to demonstrate the ability to set up reef-ball structures that attract and establish native oyster populations. The oysters are then expected to create structurally complex ‘reef’ habitat for other marine and plant life, while improving local water quality, wetland connectivity and shoreline resilience. Five years of collaborative research have gone into planning the project, which will also be monitored for five years after its establishment.

Image from Port of San Diego Website