Did you know you can recycle oyster shells? We all know that the health of the Chesapeake Bay has been suffering in recent decades and that includes its oyster population. Here is a sobering fact: The Chesapeake Bay has lost more than 99% of its native oyster population and each year continues to lose more than 2,600 acres of oyster habitat according to the Oyster Recovery Partnership. It’s time we all chip in and do our part to help save the Bay or else future generations won’t have it to enjoy. This video provided by the ORP does a fantastic job of explaining why it is so important that we do whatever we can to restore the oyster population. The ORP is doing great work, to date they have planted 3.88 billion oysters and recycled 1,200 tons of oyster shells!
Recently Maryland passed the “No Oyster Left Behind” oyster shell recycling bill. Starting on July 1, 2013 it offers a one dollar per bushel tax credit for recycled oyster shells, up to $750.00 per year. The group collects oyster shells from wholesalers, restaurants and the like and transports them to a hatchery in Cambridge, Maryland. Located on the Eastern Shore, the hatchery is the largest in the world for our native Eastern Oyster. Here shells are reused as homes for spat (baby oysters) and then planted back into the Chesapeake Bay. Each adult shell can host up to 10 young oysters, according to the ORP.
You do not have to be a business to contribute. If you’re someone who loves to eat seafood, make sure you support those restaurants and wholesalers who are members of the Shell Recycling Alliance. You can also become a “Shells Angel” by donating your time or money to the cause. Additionally, there are numerous drop-off sites now accepting oyster shells from the public; click here to find the closest. Additionally, Wicomico County recently announced that it will now accept oyster shells at all of its transfer stations with a kick-off event held last week on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at the Newland Park Transfer Station to celebrate. In Ocean City, there are drop-off boxes conveniently located on 65th Street.
Their efforts seem to be working as this winter’s harvest has been among the best in decades, this is extremely encouraging but there’s still a long way to go. Bart Farrell, director of food and beverage for Clyde’s Restaurant Group, told Nation’s Restaurant News: For a long time we didn’t have an oyster grown in Maryland on our menu. There was no local population. This was the first year we had a local oyster. Their success is a direct success of the Oyster Recovery Partnership. It is vital for both the native oyster population as well as the health of the Chesapeake Bay that more businesses and individuals get involved. In addition to their 30 second PSA, the ORP’s Shell Recycling Alliance published this video in hopes of gaining more involvement. If you are interested in becoming a member you can click here.
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