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** Archived Article - please check for current information. **

February 15, 2012

Oyster shell recycling drop-off opens in Florence County

Florence is the latest area for a drop off location for oyster shell recycling. Recycled oyster shells are used by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to refurbish oyster grounds. Shells provide the necessary hard substrate for juvenile oysters to attach and grow. When oysters are harvested, some of the habitat for future generations is lost. Replanting shells replaces this habitat and insures that our oyster populations will continue to thrive.

Take South Irby Street from downtown Florence to Pamplico Highway. Stay on Pamplico Highway for eight miles and end at 5911 Pamplico Hwy. The location is a business, Thompson Logistics. The bin is at the back of the property to the left of the building and is a three sided cattle pin style bin. There is 24/7 access to the bin.
The Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) was instrumental in getting the Florence oyster shell recycling bin in place. The CCA plans to aid in constructing future inland sites as well. DNR partners with CCA on numerous projects including scientific studies, artificial reefs, oyster shell recycling, fresh water inflows, support of local enforcement agencies and many others. But their sights are all trained on the same overall objectives: First, protect the resource, and then improve the current and future fishing for everyone.

In addition to their value as a food resource, oysters are also critical to the health of South Carolina estuaries and tidal creeks. Oysters filter and clean water, control phytoplankton blooms, recycle nutrients, provide essential fish habitat and form natural breakwaters to reduce erosion.

Currently, less than 15% of the oysters harvested in South Carolina are recycled for resource management. When the quantity of shells recycled is less than that needed for replanting DNR must purchase shell, usually from out of state sources. Recycling your oyster shells can save DNR thousands of dollars annually, money which can be used towards more replanting. Any clean oyster shell, whether local or imported, can be recycled at the DNR’s shell drop-off sites. All shell will be quarantined before replanting to ensure that no diseases or invasive species enter local waters. DNR asks that you remove all trash before placing your shells in the recycling area. 
DNR maintains 25 recycling drop-off locations, predominantly along the SC coast, where the public can recycle their shells. Maps of recycling drop-off sites and tips on shell recycling can be found by calling (843) 953-9397.

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