“After you shuck ‘em, don’t just chuck ‘em,” is the motto for a new oyster recycling program which aims to help restore Louisiana’s Gulf coast.

Restaurants in New Orleans that join the program will not only be happy to reduce their own waste, they will be helping to restore oyster reefs and shoreline habitat across coastal Louisiana.

Bourbon House, a seafood establishment on Bourbon Street is already singing the program’s praises. “Thanks to the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL), we’ve got oyster shells going back where they belong — in the Gulf!”

“Oyster shell is a naturally created and valuable material,” said Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL) Restoration Director, Hilary Collis. “By returning it to our coast it can serve as a foundation for oyster reefs and help protect our eroding shoreline.”

A $1 million philanthropic gift from Shell Oil is funding the program.

CRCL is currently working with Acme Oyster House (New Orleans and Metairie locations), the Bourbon House, Redfish Grill, Peche Seafood, Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar, and Luke, and hopes to expand the program to other restaurants as the program continues to grow.

“The main reason we want to be involved in recycling oyster shells is because we’re such a large user of the resource,” said Paul Rotner, Chief Operating Officer of Acme Oyster House. “It’s in our best interest. We need the shells in order to enrich the life span of our current oyster beds and to build new reefs.”

Oyster reefs not only provide wildlife habitat, they are a natural water filter. Louisiana currently is experiencing a shell deficit – more shell is removed from Louisiana’s coast than is returned to help maintain oyster reefs. The CRCL Oyster Shell Recycling Program will return at least 1,500 tons of shell to Louisiana’s coast each year.

CRCL contracted with the New Orleans-based recycling company, Phoenix Recycling, to facilitate shell collection and transport to a holding facility at the Buras Boat Harbor. The recycled shell will be used to provide material for CRCL oyster reef restoration projects and a portion of the shell will be donated to the Louisiana-Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) for use in their management of the public oyster seed grounds and for “spat setting” research, which places larval oysters onto shell before it is deployed along the coast.

Photo from Bourbon House Facebook Page

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