New participants located in D.C, Maryland and Virginia


Bluejacket Executive Chef Marcelle Afram

The Oyster Recovery Partnership’s (ORP) shell recycling program has grown by 28 restaurants members over the past six months, boosting collection totals and the capacity for oyster restoration projects. So far this year, the organization has collected a record 15,000 bushels of shell, enough material to construct 19 acres of oyster reef.

“We’re grateful that shell recycling has been so well received and adopted throughout the Chesapeake Bay region,” said ORP shell recycling manager, Tommy Price. “The steady growth in participants and increased collection totals are true testament to the fact that now, more than ever, local businesses and residents have a vested interest in improving Bay health.”

The newest members in Maryland are:

  • Anne Arundel County: Galway Bay Irish Restaurant; Ruth’s Chris Steak House Annapolis
  • Baltimore City/County: Baltimore Country Club’s Roland Park and Five Farms; Cask & Grain Kitchen; Costas Inn; Kim’s Seafood at Lexington Market; Lee’s Pint & Shell; Mo’s White Marsh; Points South Latin Kitchen; Sandlot; Schultz’s Crab House; Skipjack’s Crab House; Waterman’s Pride Seafood
  • Carroll County: RockSalt Grille
  • Frederick County: Firestone’s Raw Bar
  • Howard County: Hudson Coastal Raw Bar & Grille
  • Montgomery County: Republic Takoma Park

In Washington, D.C.: Bluejacket; BlackSalt; Le Diplomate; The Smith; The Salt Line

In Virginia: Ford’s Fish Shack in Ashburn and South Riding; King Street Oyster Bar; Lyon Hall; The Liberty Tavern

ORP’s Shell Recycling Alliance is the largest shell recycling network in the nation, with 318 member seafood businesses and 70 public shell drop off sites throughout Maryland, D.C. and Virginia. Many of the oysters enjoyed today are farmed through aquaculture practices, which provide the same water quality benefits as wild reefs and reduce the harvest pressure on wild populations.

Tommy Wayne 2016 Shell Pile

Shell recycling crew members Wayne Witzke and Tommy Price.

“Here at Bluejacket, we believe it’s important to give back to the environment that provides us with so many great resources,” said Executive Chef Marcelle Afram. “Understanding our role as consumers and providers also helps us take our guests on the journey to sustainability. We take pride in knowing that our work with the Oyster Recovery Partnership is helping maintain and develop a community and ecosystem that is beneficial to our environment.”

Natural oyster shell is vital to a healthy oyster population because it is the preferred material for oyster larvae to attach and grow. In fact, every half shell can host up to 10 juvenile oysters. Once collected, the oyster shell is aged outdoors, washed and set with spat (baby oysters) by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Horn Point Oyster Hatchery in Cambridge.

ORP is working with its restoration partners to deploy shells this spring and summer with spat attached onto local oyster reefs make them larger, denser or taller, and to encourage continued spawning. Oysters play a vital role in improving Bay health by filtering excess nutrients from the water, and their reefs create habitat for a multitude of marine life.

Since the Alliance’s launch in 2010, ORP has recycled 123,450 bushels, which equates to 4,323 tons of shell kept out of area landfills, and enough substrate to support the planting of up to 618 million oysters in local waters.

On a national scale, shell recycling is becoming a mainstream practice among coastal communities and businesses. As the public becomes increasingly invested in oysters, groups are establishing their own restoration and education programs, highlighted here.

Businesses and individuals who recycle their shell in Maryland are eligible for a state tax credit of up to $750 annually. Learn more about this free service at