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September 28, 2010

DNR recycles oyster shells to benefit restoration program

As oyster season opens, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds the public of the importance of recycling oyster shells. Twenty-one oyster shell recycling drop-off locations are located in coastal counties. The public may leave their shells at these sites for DNR to use in shellfish ground replenishment. Please separate all trash and deposit only the shell in the collection bins. Locations of collection sites can be found online or by calling (843) 953-9397.

DNR also provides shell collection assistance for larger oyster roasts on a first-come first-served basis. 
Recycled shells will be dried on high land for at least six months to kill any pests and parasites.  Any shells are acceptable – local, imported, clam, whelk – they can all be used. 

After the quarantine period, recycled shells are used to restore shellfish grounds in coastal South Carolina. DNR plants more than 40,000 bushels of oyster shells in coastal waters annually to provide hard surfaces for attachment of juvenile oysters. Shells not obtained from the recycling program must be purchased from out of state vendors at great expense. In the 2009-2010 season, approximately 21,000 bushels of shells were recycled within the coastal counties. This is a small fraction of the more than 100,000 bushels consumed in the state. 

DNR uses Saltwater License revenues and grant funds to construct and improve oyster reefs. In addition to the oyster crop, oyster reefs improve the quality of our coastal waters, provide vital habitat for fish, protect shorelines from erosion, and provide excellent locations for recreational fishing.  More than 80 species of marine animals can be found on oyster reefs.

The DNR shell planting program is essential to maintaining healthy oyster reefs. DNR relies on public participation through the shell recycling program and its community-based oyster restoration program.  For more information on how you can help call (843) 953-9241.

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