Louisiana’s first formal oyster shell recycling program is getting underway this summer, under the leadership of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana.

During one weekend in June, more than 19,000 pounds of oyster shells were collected from restaurants in the New Orleans area. The collected shells are to be stored in Buras, at a site run by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

The state agency will use some of the shells to support its ongoing oyster reef restoration efforts. The CRCL will bag the rest of the shells for use in a variety of reef restoration and living shoreline projects. By returning shells to the water, a hard surface is provided that will allow free-floating larval oysters to settle and grow into mature oysters.

“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. Oysters are a natural water filter; oyster reefs provide wildlife habitat, and coastal protection. We are extremely proud to be a partnering with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and the Oyster Shell Recycling Program.”

Restaurants participating in the program are Acme Oyster House, The Bourbon House, Redfish Grill, Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar, Lüke and Peche Seafood Grill.

Shell Oil Company donated $1 million to CRCL to get the program going.

For more information about the program, contact CRCL restoration director Hilary Collis at hilaryc@crcl.org.