Oyster Shell Recycling Starting a Program The Massachusetts Oyster Project for Clean Water An oyster filters 30 gallons of water per day.www.massoyster.org
Introduction• The Oyster Project is getting increasing numbers of questions about oyster shell recycling.• We believe that this can be a valuable part of an oyster restoration program as it enhances success rates.• It also offers ancillary benefits – Raising visibility – Generating good will – Garnering broader citizen participation – Bringing oyster eaters closer to oyster production – Creating opportunities for volunteers to get involved.
Oyster Shell Recycling Benefits• Reduces waste volume going to land fills• Returns shell to the waters – Create substrate for spat settlement – Create structure for other fish • Over 200 other species will live in a reef. – Offset ocean acidification on a local level• Allows restaurants and events to be “Greener”
Getting Started• First, talk to your local Division of Marine Fisheries or Shellfish regulatory authorities. – They may have restrictions • Aging of the shell • Locations for placement • How it is used – Shells can carry shellfish diseases • MSX, Dermo
Oyster Presence• If you have existing oysters, then placing shell will give a spot for young free-floating oyster spat to settle.• If you don’t have existing oysters or spat in your waters your shell may still be used as part of a reef restoration. – A substrate layer beneath the reef – Placed in netted bags for spat to adhere to at a hatchery. – Those bags are then placed on a layer of substrate on the bottom.
Start Small • This is 1/3 of the oysters from a one day restaurant event. • Collection could be managed by two people. • The oysters could be transported in a station wagon-but note that a pick-up truck is a better idea.We started small with shell from our own events and responded affirmativelywhen others asked us to take their shell.
Collecting Shell at Events• Five gallon buckets work well.• Mark them with signage – Oyster shells only for recycling• They can be carried – Not too heavy – Built in handle – Transfer the oysters to plastic garbage cans in a pick-up truck
Shells From the Two-Day Wellfleet Festival • Teams of people worked collecting this throughout the festival. • Since it was all local and many shells had living spat on them, the shell was promptly returned to the sea.
Here we are placing the oysters in mesh bags. • The mesh is cut in three foot lengths. • One end is tied in an overhand knot. • The mesh is placed over the lower end of the PCV pipe. • Shell is poured in. • Once full the top end is tied off.Netting can be easily and cheaply obtained through Atlantic Aquaculture at(401) 247-1661.
Here is a young environmentalist with our bagged shell.
Aging the Shell- Minimizing Odor-• Curt Felix taught me this new process that worked well enough to use it in an urban backyard without offending the neighbors.• Use black rubber trash cans – Drill numerous holes in the bottom ½ inch in diameter. – Fill the bucket with oysters – Place the trash can in the sun. It will become quite hot and dry the shells.• After three weeks – Open the can – Place shell in open air to dry. – We use milk crates for drying. If you are in a rural area you may not need to use the crates for drying, but can simply stack them in piles. A town land fill may be a good site.
Bulk Shell Placement DeviceSome will barge them to the location and then rinse them off the barge withhoses. Others will manually shovel the shell overboard.
Oyster Shell at Home• If you shuck your own oysters at home, the shells can be useful in your garden – As a layer of mulch – Mixed in with compost• The calcium carbonate in them will help neutralize acidic soil.
Economics• Donations may be eligible for a tax credit of approximatley half the retail value of the donation.• Aged shell goes for $600 per cubic yard for driveways. Or $15 per 5 gallon bucket.• A donation credit of $7.50 per bucket is not unreasonable.• We are cross-checking this vlaue with a contract put out by the government.
Oyster Shell Recycling Programs• North Carolina’s Division of Marine Fisheries has an impressive program. – Public drop-off locations – Tax benefit ($1 per bushel) – Website http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/oyster-shell-recycling-program • List of Participating Restaurants • Rationale for Participation
Oyster Shell Recycling Programs• South Carolina also has an fine state run program. – Website http://score.dnr.sc.gov/deep.php?subject=6&topic=1 • Public drop-off sites • Support of non-state programs • List of participating restaurants – Track record of restoring 400 reefs at 40 sites with 26,000 bushels of shell since 2001.
Oyster Shell Recycling Programs• Massachusetts- Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group – Website http://mvshellfishgroup.org/ – Active program collecting from restaurants• Wellfleet – Oyster shell from the Annual Festival is recycled. The oyster comes from there so it is easy to promptly return the shell to the Harbor.
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