Clam and oyster shells from the Hampton Roads area of Southeast Virginia are finding their way back home to the Chesapeake Bay. The US EPA reports that, with the help of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and local volunteers, discarded shells from area restaurants are being returned to the Bay to provide habitat for future generations of shellfish, while reducing the amount of food waste sent to landfills.

Oysters begin life as free-floating larvae, but soon attach themselves to hard surfaces, such as concrete dock or bridge piers, rocks, and shells. Due to loss of habitat, oysters have struggled for years to find places to settle and grow. This problem is occurring in many of Virginia‘‘s tributaries. According to CBF, the Bay currently supports only a small percentage of the oyster population that it once sustained.

Since 2003, restaurants and citizens have dropped off their discarded shells in designated buckets and outdoor bins located throughout the Hampton Roads area. Twice a week, volunteers collect the shells and deliver them to a centralized storage location in Norfolk Industrial Park to be cleaned and dried. After four to six months, the shells are ready to be reused in coastal restoration projects, such as building oyster reefs or constructing a living shoreline to slow erosion. Shell curing site

In 2006, the shell recycling initiative was able to collect enough shells to build ten reefs placed at five sites throughout the Hampton Roads waterways.

This year alone, more than 400,000 oyster and clam shells have been diverted from disposal and put back into use.

“This has been a wonderful project for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation,” says Christy Everett, the Foundation‘‘s Virginia assistant director for Hampton Roads. “We‘‘ve really seen it as a win-win partnering with restaurants to reduce their solid waste generation and reuse organic material to sustain the oyster population in the Hampton Roads waterways.”

The Hampton Roads Shell Recycling program has been supported by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) /Restoring America‘‘s Estuaries. Beginning in 2008, the City of Norfolk also will provide financial support to the program on a long-term basis. With any luck, the Hampton Roads waterways will once again be filled with oysters and the waste stream will be smelling a little less fishy.

Ano da Publicação:
WARMER BULLETIN ENEWS #34-2007-August 24, 2007
Kit Strange/Warmer Bulletin
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