Oyster Shells Can Save the Bay
Oyster shells could be worth more than the change in your pocket if the Oyster Recovery Partnership can talk the political talk.
The nonprofit Partnership, which has planted four billion seed oysters in its work for recovery, is now seeking to persuade legislators to pass a bill giving a $1 tax credit for every bushel of oyster shells you recycle.
Shells are desperately needed to make habitats for new oyster families and the communities they support. Those communities filter millions of gallons of Bay water each day and are vital to a restored Bay.
The Partnership has collected 30,000 bushels of oyster shells in the last three years from restaurants, caterers and seafood wholesalers throughout Maryland, Virginia, D.C. and Delaware.
Now, University of Maryland oyster hatcheries and the Department of Natural Resources can produce and plant two billion oysters in one year. But not for long without more shells.
The proposed tax credit would give restaurants and oyster-eaters more incentive to think twice before tossing empty shells into the trash.
Oysters need all the help we can give them. Once so abundant that their reefs endangered boats, oysters have been reduced to one percent of their historic numbers. Their plight earned them the lowest grade in the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s State of the Bay report card: six points out of 100. More shells would help oysters rise to the top of the class.
Go to www.oysterrecovery.org/public-recycling-collection-centers to find a nearby collection site where you can add your shell to the effort.