CHESAPEAKE, Va. - With indoor dining in Virginia restaurants still restricted, oyster restoration efforts are facing a depleted supply of shells.
The shells are needed to stock sanctuary oyster reefs as part of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's (CBF) oyster reef restoration efforts.
In 2019 Virginia restaurants and oyster lovers supplied 3,000 bushels of oyster shells to CBF. CBF expects 2020 numbers to be lower due to restaurant restrictions related to COVID-19.
The dozens of Virginia restaurants that participate in CBF’s shell recycling program save empty oyster shells after meals.
The shells are then picked up by volunteers and brought to shell collection bins. These empty shells are cleaned and eventually become homes for the baby oysters that attach to them.
CBF restoration experts plant the shells and baby oysters on sanctuary reefs off-limits to harvest.
“With fewer people eating oysters in restaurants, we can’t count on a steady stream of restaurant shells, which have been vital for restoration work. Many people are now enjoying local oysters at home, but don’t forget to recycle those shells,” said CBF Virginia Oyster Restoration Manager Jackie Shannon.
CBF has Hampton Roads shell drop-off bins in Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Suffolk, Smithfield, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg.
To find the nearest oyster shell recycling, click here.