This past weekend, the Seatuck Environmental Association’s Half Shells for Habitat hosted a Shellapaloosa event, which included a Zoom discussion titled “Restaurants to Restoration: The Story of a Recycled Oyster Shell.”
The Zoom event, led by Arielle Santos, policy program coordinator at Seatuck, detailed the Half Shells for Habitat program that Seatuck began in 2018 with a host of restaurant partners, as well as the towns of Islip, Brookhaven and Hempstead. The program recovers oyster shells from restaurants for use in oyster and habitat restoration programs.
The cycle begins as such: Restaurant staff separate waste oyster shells from the regular trash and place them into separate Habitat for Half Shells recycling bins; later, volunteers pick up these recycling bins and bring them to the Town of Brookhaven Recycling Facility; at the recycling facility, the oyster shells are “aged” for one year in order to sanitize; these aged shells are sent to many places, including the shellfish hatchery where baby oysters settle upon them; once large enough, the baby oysters and recycled shells are returned to the bay.
According to Half Shells for Habitat, “Live oysters consume small algae by filtering seawater, thus creating clean, clear coastal waters.”
To date, the program has recovered 90,000 pounds of waste oyster shells and over 17,000 pounds of oyster shells have already been provided to living oyster reef restoration projects in the Great South Bay, Moriches Bay and Shinnecock Bay.
All attendees of the Zoom webinar received a 15 percent discount on orders of oysters from one of the local restaurant sponsors, which included Blue Point Brewery, The Fish Store, The Snapper Inn, JJ’s on the Bay and The Cull House.
More information about the Half Shells for Habitat initiative can be found online at https://seatuck.org/half-shells/.
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