The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has an oyster shell recycling program to help build new oyster reefs. The organization collects about $2,000 bushels of oyster shells every year. Those are recycled and then used as homes for millions of new oysters. But oyster populations are down because of things like over-harvesting and diseases, so the organization is hoping you will get involved.
Jackie Shannon knows oysters. “We’re in the Lynnhaven River right now. These waters provide really great growing conditions for oysters,” Shannon said.
She also knows they need help.
We never have oysters at home, since I no longer get them free as a side benefit of work, but if we did, and we had left over shells, I'd just take them out an dump them on the nearest oyster bar, which conveniently enough, is one of my fishing holes.
“There is a shortage of oyster shells bay-wide,” Shannon said. So, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is enlisting the help of people and restaurants across the commonwealth.
Shannon says step one is collecting the oysters in containers. Step two is bringing them to a drop off site and step 3, they head up to Gloucester to become the new real estate for the baby oysters.
“We take these recycled shells and put them into large tanks full of seawater and oyster larvae,” Shannon said. Then, they’re placed in oyster reefs across the bay.
The recycling project has a lot of benefits, like more oysters to eat.
You might be amazed how bad a pile of shucked oyster shells smells.