Why are Tons of Oyster Shells Being Dumped Onto Louisiana’s Coast?


On NationSwell a couple of years ago, they posed the question, “Why are Tons of Oyster Shells Being Dumped Onto Louisiana’s Coast?” Little did I know, oyster shells are being recycled in an attempt to restore the shoreline in Louisiana. According to the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, since the program’s inception in 2014, more than 1,650 tons of shells have been recycled. This makes the program the largest oyster shell recycling program in the nation.

So, how did the program start, and why are they recycling oyster shells in this way?

Following the big oil spill that damaged Louisiana’s waterways and shoreline, Shell Oil Company donated $1,000,000 toward restoring the shoreline. This money will fund the program for another year (until 2017).

The program uses the oyster shells to restore the reef on the coast. This is important because the reef provides an barrier for storm surges coming into the coast. They also provide a quality habitat for fish. Louisiana is responsible for producing 1/3 of the nations oysters – in fact, they harvest more oysters than what is being returned. According to a Times-Picayune article by Benjamin Alexander-Bloch:

“Also, there are some new oyster hatchery programs out there that are working to lay down spat first on land as it appears that, when on land, the larvae attaches more easily to oyster shells than to many other types of hard substrate. Larvae that attach to a hard surface form spat, which then grows into adult oysters.”

It turns out that the shells can provide a home for up to ten oysters once they’ve been recycled.

The shells are currently being collected from area restaurants by Phoenix Recycling. They are always looking for new restaurants to get involved.

You can get involved by volunteering to help distribute the recycled shells, staying informed and spreading the word about the program, or donating to the program.

What do you think about the oyster shell recycling program? Post your thoughts in the comments. 



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