Conservationists say that strategically placing used oyster and clam shells into the waterways around Long Island is a good way to help restore the shellfish population. This is important because oysters, for example, remove pollutants from the water. Like little living motors, an individual oyster is able to filter 50 gallons of water every single day.
To promote this regrowth, the Town of Oyster Bay has launched an initiative to recycle oyster and clam shells, inviting local restaurants to join the cause and help improve the marine environment. The town is seeking out partnerships with local restaurants and other entities to collect oyster and clam shells from dinner plates and kitchen preparation tables. Town aqua-culturists will pick up shells from local partners and deliver them to an environmental curing facility. Once ready for deposit into waterways, the shells will be strategically placed at the bottom of local Oyster Bay and Cold Spring harbors.
“The shells from your dinner plate provide an excellent source of habitat for young shellfish to grow as they offer protection from predators and weather conditions,” said Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino.
The oyster and clam shell recycling initiative expands upon the Town’s already ongoing efforts by recruiting local restaurateurs to recycle their shell-waste to better the harbor.
The program not only helps the environment but also helps restaurateurs toward achieving compliance requirements with the New York State Food Donation and Scraps Recycling Law while also reducing waste carting expenses. Local business owners could also potentially receive a tax incentive, currently under review in New York State.
Heather Johnson, executive director of Friends of the Bay, a non-profit with a mission to preserve, protect and restore the Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Estuary and the surrounding watershed, said that she is happy to see the program finally launched.
“Our organization recommended that the town undertake the program several years ago and has been involved in discussions with officials on how best to implement it,” she said.
Johnson explained that the cured shells will be placed back on the bay bottom to create new habitat with the hopes of bringing back the shellfish population, thus improving water quality.
Town Councilwoman Vicki Walsh said this initiative will bring the community together for a common goal and restore local food supply.
“It’s a win-win for the community and our environment,” she said.
To participate in this initiative, restaurants can click here for more information, or contact the Town of Oyster Bay Department of Environmental Resources at (516) 677-5943 or via email at email@example.com.