Soft Solutions


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Soft Solutions: Accelerating Oyster Regeneration with 3D-printed self-healing coastal infrastructure along NYC coastlines for marine life biodiversity


THE PROBLEM

Oysters, a keystone species to marine life biodiversity, are currently on the brink of extinction. New York Harbor alone has suffered catastrophic oyster population loss since 1906, losing our city’s once-earned title “The Big Oyster” (before “The Big Apple”).

MY ROLE

To revive our NY harbor’s lifeless waters, restore our natural storm & flooding cushioning capabilities, and bring the Hudson River back to its flourishing biodiverse-rich state, I am proposing the digital fabrication of underwater infrastructure to encourage rapid oyster restoration.





Oysters are currently on the brink of extinction at over 90% of oyster reef loss globally. The New York Harbor alone has suffered catastrophic oyster population loss since 1906 due to habitat destruction, over-harvesting, and parasitic diseases.


Before New York City was called “The Big Apple”, we were known as “The Big Oyster”, where all five boroughs produced and sold oysters due to our vast estuary properties.


Now, it is predicted that the amount of time it will take for our waters to return to a flourishing marine life biodiversity status is millions of years. This devastating blow has been flagged by many great organizations all over the world to band together in a collaborative effort towards marine line regenerative efforts. New York City’s Billion Oyster Project is making great leaps towards reviving our NY Harbor oyster population, focusing on strong community-driven efforts and education.







But why do oysters matter?



Oysters are able to filter 50 gallons of water a day, and are the most important underwater species to remove nitrogen, the #1 cause of lifeless waters. But that is not all they can do. Oysters are natural storm barriers, where their flourishing coastal population can mitigate hazards by reducing floods, lowering the impact of erosion and countering high wave energy by 76 - 93%. As the eco-engineers of our waters, healthy oyster populations give rise to hundreds of marine life species.




So we know why oysters are important to our world. But this also comes with a sense of urgency.


Currently, we’ve revived about 15 acres of oysters in the NY harbor. Ambitious goals have been placed by Billion Oyster Project & The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the entire Hudson-Raritan Estuary to reach restoration of 200 acres of oysters by 2035; and 2,000 acres of oysters by 2050. However, based on our studies, the current rate of oyster revival won’t cut it, and needs to be more than doubled to reach these goals.





Biomimicry is the cornerstone of this proposed solution.


Soft Solutions uses innovative resources to encourage the development of self-healing natural infrastructures and accelerate oyster restoration. More specifically, we fabricate carefully-designed 3D structures that mimic oyster shells to encourage rapid restoration and monitor their progress. Our structures closely mimic the way oysters naturally build up their layered shells, sheet-by-sheet, much like a 3D printer.






We are starting with a 8.5 B $ global addressable market, of which 500M $ is US- specific. Currently 10M $ has been budgeted to non-profits and organizations powering oyster restoration, that’s our SAM. Out of that, we have 2M $ allocated to reviving NY/NJ harbors. That’s 2M $ as our serviceable obtainable market for our first year of launching.

However, Soft Solutions intend on reaching each level of these market sizes through our company’s milestones, starting from NGOs and partnership with local organizations, and scaling out to the Oyster Farming Industry.



A dollar in the Oyster Restoration industry goes a long way.


The impact of investing in oyster restoration is manifold, and extends to various industries. There is a great influence on the labor market, with an added 240 jobs per year, and an increase to household income. Infrastructure around NY harbors is very expensive. And with the revival of oyster beds, we can save on all that money that’s poured into building bulkheads. By expediting oyster repopulation, we also increase the annual recreational fishing spend and the seafood harvest.



Join us in contributing towards the oyster restoration efforts and help our waters flourish again.




References:


https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5332982
https://www.nature.org/content/dam/tnc/nature/en/documents/new-york-city-restoring-oysters-lessons-learned-2019.pdf
Goelz, Taylor, Vogt, Bruce, and Hartley, Troy. 2020. Alternative Substrates Used for Oyster Reef Restoration: A Review - https://bioone.org/journals/journal-of-shellfish-research/volume-39/issue-1/035.039.0101/Alternative-Substrates-Used-for-Oyster-Reef-Restoration-A-Review/10.2983/035.039.0101.full
McCann, M. 2019. Restoring Oysters to Urban Waters: Lessons Learned and Future Opportunities in NY/NJ Harbor. The Nature Conservancy, New York, NY, USA.
https://www.northropgrumman.com/what-we-do/clearing-the-waters-novel-combination-of-imaging-tech-and-algorithms/
https://news.northropgrumman.com/news/releases/northrop-grumman-to-upgrade-oyster-monitoring-in-chesapeake-bay
https://www.northropgrumman.com/wp-content/uploads/Oyster-Monitoring-Challenge-Infographic.pdf
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dif4W8Bb7co
https://oceanwealth.org/tools/oyster-calculator/
https://theindexproject.org/award/nominees/3014
https://abc7chicago.com/coral-reef-climate-change-damaged-pollution/10993177/
https://www.oplusi.com/coral-carbonate
https://www.architecturalecologies.cca.edu/research/presidio-culvert-reef
https://news.mongabay.com/2018/08/a-new-dimension-to-marine-restoration-3d-printing-coral-reefs/
https://www.dezeen.com/2020/08/06/coral-carbonate-reef-skeletons-objects-ideograms/
https://www.dezeen.com/2015/03/06/alex-goad-mars-modular-artificial-reef-structure-restore-damaged-coral-reefs/
https://www.growoysterreefs.com/
https://www.growoysterreefs.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/GROW_Executive-Summary-091321.pdf
https://www.jmu.edu/news/artandarthistory/2016/05-31-tickle-social-good-award.shtml
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Dabkz8ILQE
https://3dprint.com/96558/oyster-3d-printed-reef/
https://www.reefdesignlab.com/projects-1
https://smartoysters.com/contact



the side hustle of 2015 – 2021

For 6 years, I dedicated my career to dance performance and creating movement for the stage, while exploring what design meant to me as an artist.
why it mattered

That gave me the time and space to breathe new life into my interdisciplinary arts-based research around the fluid categorization of identities in tangent with the self.