Why recycle oyster shell?
The wild Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica), also referred to as the Virginia Oyster, is at a critical population level due to increased water pollution, disease, habitat loss and historic overharvesting in the Chesapeake Bay. Estimates put the current population at one to two percent of its peak number.
Restoring the oyster population provides for multiple environmental benefits. Oysters filter more than 50 gallons of water per day, processing plankton and sediment that in excess cloud waterways. As oyster reefs expand, they provide habitat for blue crabs, striped bass and red drum and help mitigate storm-induced shoreline erosion. As those reefs decompose, they act like an antacid and help balance the pH in the water. Oyster shells are the preferred substrate for new oysters to attach to help rebuild reefs.
Recent harvest numbers continue to increase with the 2021 landings exceeding 3.4 million pounds and are the result of successful aquaculture and restoration efforts. With proper management, the oyster population can be restored, helping support sustainable coastal economies.