Holiday meal makers asked to recycle oyster shells to help sustain reefs

Every shell counts.

That’s the message for people who may be incorporating oysters into holiday menus this year.

Many may choose to include an oyster roast, oyster stuffing, baked clam dip or another delicious shellfish recipe in holiday recipes.

So, the Department of Natural Resources is asking meal makers to keep and recycle leftover shells.

“Recycling oyster shells is a critical step in helping the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) manage South Carolina’s oyster populations and helps to keep our fisheries sustainable,” said shellfish biologist Michael Hodges.

Experts say the health of South Carolina oyster reefs depends on recycled shells.

DNR says many large, traditional roasts have been cancelled this year because of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

So what happens with recycled shells?

SCDNR biologists will collect, quarantine, and ‘plant’ shell on shorelines across the coast. Recycled shells form the foundation for new oyster reefs, onto which baby oysters (called ‘spat’) will settle and grow.

Check online or call (843) 953-9397 to find locations where shell can be dropped off for recycling.

All types of shell (both local and from out of state) are accepted, according to DNR.

Tips for Recycling Your Oyster Shells

DO bring your shell to the nearest shell recycling center. Drop-off locations are available online. If a center is not shown near you, please call 843-953-9397.

DO separate shell from trash. Shell mixed with trash (including shell in bags or containers) is not suitable for recycling. If you host an oyster roast, please provide separate containers for shells and trash.

DON’T put live or freshly shucked oysters in South Carolina waters. If the oysters you purchased were harvested outside South Carolina, it is illegal to place them in SC waters. Placing live oysters in our waters can harm local oysters by spreading disease. To avoid contamination, shell should be recycled through SCDNR and properly quarantined.

Alex Tuhell

Co-founder and publisher

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