Oyster Shell Recycling Program
In 2009, members of the CCA NH Board became aware of the dramatic decrease in Great Bay oyster beds. After researching the issue with Dr. Ray Grizzle of UNH’s Jackson Estuarine Lab (JEL) and Ray Konisky of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), we decided to seek funding to institute a shell recycling program with area restaurants. Most oysters being sold originate from out of state. Two purposes would be served: 1) acquire shell to re-establish the disappearing beds, and 2) increase public awareness of the problems facing the estuary, namely: siltation, storm water run-off, point and non-point pollution, the disappearance of eelgrass, disease and nitrogen loading.
The Orvis Company of Manchester, VT, recognized immediately the value of the venture and funded the program. Weekly pick-ups of shell commenced and to date more than 2000 bushels have been collected.
Working closely with JEL and TNC, the seasoned shell is utilized directly and indirectly as the necessary substrate for the growth of natural and introduced spat (baby oysters). The shell ends up on the bay bottom at permitted sites closed to recreational harvest.
Oysters perform an extremely important function. An adult can filter up to 40 gallons of water every day. One estimate calculates that the healthy beds in the early 1990’s could filter the entire bay in 3-4 days. The remnant beds of today take well over a year to perform the same function.
Great Bay is facing some serious problems. Supporting oyster restoration is a positive step that you can be involved in. Contact Jeff Barnum at (603.770.3201 or firstname.lastname@example.org) or by using the form on this page for additional information, to become a partner/supporter, or to learn how you can get involved.
We continue to make weekly pickups of oysters from the following restaurants:
- Jumpin’ Jay’s Fish Cafe
- The Franklin Oyster House
- Robert’s Maine Grill in Kittery
- Newick’s of Dover
- The Old Salt in Hampton
- Riverworks in Newmarket
- Hayseed Restaurant at Smuttynose
- York River Landing in York