Wicomico County, ORP Announce Drop-Off Locations to Recycle Oyster Shells

Wicomico County, ORP Announce New Public Drop-Off Locations to Recycle Used Oyster Shells

Shells Will Provide Homes for New Oysters in the Chesapeake Bay

SALISBURY, Md. – Wicomico County Executive Rick Pollitt and the Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) today announced a partnership to use county transfer stations as public collection sites for the recycling of used oyster shells.  The Kick-Off event is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at the Newland Park Transfer Station in Salisbury. This makes Wicomico County the newest member of ORP’s Shell Recycling Alliance — the region’s largest group of restaurants, caterers, seafood distributors, citizens and others who recycle oyster shell to aid in Chesapeake Bay oyster restoration. Each recycled shell can provide homes for 10 new oysters.

The drop-off sites demonstrate the County’s commitment to oyster restoration and recycling in Maryland. These recycling locations will allow area restaurants and residents to take advantage of the new oyster shell recycling tax credit recently signed into law in the State of Maryland.  Starting July 1, 2013 residents and restaurants will be able to receive a one dollar tax credit per bushel of recycled oyster shell, up to $750 a year.

Pollitt said, “I am enthusiastically embracing the position of a growing number of watermen, scientists and environmentalists who recognize that recovery of a vibrant oyster habitat is key to ultimately restoring a vibrant, productive Chesapeake Bay. Wicomico’s involvement in oyster shell recycling is great for local business, great for a healthy Bay and gives all of us an opportunity to be good citizens and stewards of our natural resources.”

Wicomico joins Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City and Dorchester County, jurisdictions that already had public drop off facilities. The initial six Wicomico locations will have shell containers near the other recycling bins that will be clearly marked for shell drop off. Once individuals or restaurants drop off their shell, they can register their donation online at www.oysterrecovery.org/sra_forms/SRA_Reg.html to get their tax credit. The Oyster Recovery Partnership will collect the shell and transport it to Cambridge, MD, where the shell will be aged and processed before being returned to the Chesapeake Bay with baby oysters attached.

“We are very pleased that Wicomico County has joined the Shell Recycling Alliance,” said Stephan Abel, Executive Director of the Oyster Recovery Partnership. “County Executive Rick Pollitt and his staff immediately saw the value of the program and have been big supporters ever since. With the new Maryland tax credit, these drop-off sites will benefit Wicomico County businesses and individuals who recycle as well as ORP’s important oyster restoration efforts.”

Oyster shells are a limited natural resource, yet are necessary for large-scale oyster restoration because young oysters prefer to attach to hard, adult oyster shells.  ORP’s Shell Recycling Alliance has recycled 1,200 tons of shell since its inception in 2009. However, this amount only provides approximately 10 percent of Maryland’s annual shell needs for oyster recovery efforts currently underway.

Oysters are a keystone species to improving water quality and creating a healthy aquatic ecosystem in the Chesapeake Bay.  An oyster reef not only filters the Bay’s dirty waters, but also provides crucial habitat for an underwater community that furnishes valuable life support for blue crabs and fish. An adult oyster can filter 50 gallons of water per day.  Over the last century, the Chesapeake Bay has seen a dramatic decline of its native oyster population. The entire Bay used to be filtered in just days, but now it takes more than a year.