|Posted by Mscfuwebs@gmail.com on February 28, 2018 at 4:45 PM|
The Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United launched a pilot oyster shell recycling effort at the 2017 Annual Oyster Cook-off & Festival that was a huge success! The event- featuring six of the Mississippi Coast's best restaurants yielded nearly 2,000 pounds of recycled oyster shells in just one day! We received a call from our friends at the Alabama Coastal Foundation asking if we would be interested in leading this oyster shell recycling effort at the annual oyster cook-off in Biloxi and we jumped on the opportunity right away. Oyster shell recycling is something our organization has been a staunch advocate of for several years now. We have been sitting idle here in Mississippi while our neighboring states of Louisiana and Alabama have been operating very successful oyster shell recycling programs for several years now.
The time to take action is now! A recent Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) meeting in Mobile, AL back in November of 2017 presented an opportunity to speak directly with Trustees of the historic BP Settlement. One of the things our organization voiced loud and clear was the need for funding for oyster shell recycling programs to help restore our severely degraded oyster reefs in Mississippi. Currently to date, most of the cultch planting (the material used to help give oyster larvae a place to attach to) that has taken place in Mississippi has used the limestone as the cultch material. The commercial fishermen represented by our organization has been expressing much concern over the ineffectiveness of the use of for cultch planting for some time now. Although, oyster shells are widely known as the industry preferred and natural cultch material; a shortage in the supply of oyster shells has inhibited resource managers from utilizing the shell. This is where the oyster shell recycling program comes in to play.
Tons of oyster shells are being discarded in to landfills every year from local restaurants. These shells could easily be separated and collected to be used in the restoration of our oyster reefs. Not only would these restaurants be helping to restore the very oysters they are serving; they would be helping to clean the waters of the Mississippi Sound and improve the livelihoods of the commercial fishermen who harvest the oysters. A single oyster can filter nearly 50 gallons of water a day. For these reasons, an oyster shell recycling program is a no-brainer. The Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United looks forward to assisting in more oyster shell recycling efforts and hopes that the Trustees and decision makers in charge of the BP settlement will consider using the funds to pay for this much needed project to help restore Mississippi's oyster reefs- which include some of the largest wild reefs in the world!