From the NC Division of Marine Fisheries:
It’s time to pull out the iron grate and roast oysters over the fire pit. That means it’s time to recycle those shells, as well.
The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Oyster Shell Recycling Program provides 126 drop-off centers for shellfish lovers to chuck their shucks, including new recycling sites opening Oct. 26 in Clinton. Also, 70 restaurants, in various counties, participate in the program. While prominent on the coast, the program includes sites in counties west of Interstate 95 such as Johnston, Wake, Orange and Durham.
Recycling oyster shells helps reduce waste flow into landfills and benefits the environment.
The Oyster Shell Recycling program returns the oyster, clam, conch and mussel shells to coastal waters where they serve as essential habitat. The program has collected more than 120,000 bushels of shell since it began in the fall of 2003.
When oysters spawn, the larvae need a hard substrate on which to attach and grow. Oysters will attach to many kinds of surfaces, but they prefer shell material.
Oysters serve as food for humans, birds and fish. They also clean pollutants from the water. One adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day. Oyster reefs also provide habitat for fish and other marine life which in return provide great hook-and-line fishing opportunities.
A list of public oyster shell recycling sites and restaurants that participate in the program can be found on the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries website at http://www.ncfisheries.net/shellfish/recycle1.htm.
For more information, contact N.C. Oyster Shell Recycling Coordinator Sabrina Varnam at (252)726-7021 or (800) 682-2632 or Sabrina.Varnam@ncdenr.gov.