CCA NH’s Oyster Shell Recycling Project was in need of help. A plea for volunteers was answered by Sheyne Branconnier of Dover, Dale Pike of Newmarket, and Bruce Bonenfant of Lee. These gentlemen are a much needed addition to Matt McCarthy who has been doing the bulk of the weekly oyster shell pick-ups at area restaurants. Board members David Beattie and Jeff Barnum help out when they can.
Sheyne Branconnier, Dale Pike and Bruce Bonenfant have stepped forward to help with oyster shell collection. The bulk of the shell on the Seacoast comes from Jumpin’ Jay’s Fish Café, Surf Restaurant (both in Portsmouth) Robert’s Maine Grill in Kittery, and Newick’s in Dover. A few other restaurants like The Old Salt in Hampton add to the total. Shell is also collected in the Concord area at O’s Steak and Seafood, Newick’s Lobster House, and Makris Lobster and Steak House by volunteer Ron Rayner. All of the shell ends up in the Great Bay estuary to create new reefs, led by The Nature Conservancy. With the help of the UNH Jackson Lab, we have created and seeded almost 20 acres in the last few years.
Matt McCarthy, who has been doing the lion’s share of shell pickup, stands next to the CCA NH shell collection trailer. The estuary has lost over a thousand acres of healthy oyster beds since 1993. Each oyster filters 20-50 gallons of water a day and they are instrumental in improving water quality. To date, CCA NH has collected over 4000 bushels of shell to augment the reef restoration process.
CCA NH recycled shell dries at UNH’s Kingman Farm facility awaiting use in Great Bay oyster restoration efforts next summer. Oyster restoration not only removes shell from the waste stream to create needed beds, it is a vehicle that engages the public and begins a conversation about all the challenges facing Great Bay.