Rally for the Reefs: Oyster Shell Donations Needed

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) wants to collect 3,000 bushels of oyster shells to build new reefs in Virginia, and it needs your help to meet a June 30 deadline.

Photo: Kevin Ensor/Maryland DNR

Photo: Kevin Ensor/Maryland DNR

The effort will contribute to the Chesapeake Oyster Alliance's goal of adding 10 billion new oysters to the Chesapeake by 2025. 

The CBF says restaurants in Virginia have been donating shells from meals, but more donations are needed. So far, about 1,666 bushels have been collected.

CBF Oyster Restoration Specialist Heather North says donations made by the public and restaurants will play a major role in the return of Virginia's native bivalve. "Empty oyster shells are a scarce resource that are used as the foundation of new oyster reefs," says North. "The restaurants and seafood lovers who donate empty shells after meals are a key part of the comeback of the Chesapeake Bay oysters we all enjoy. It's crucial that more restaurants participate to keep up momentum."

Through CBF's "Save Oyster Shells" recycling program, volunteers collect donations, clean the shells, and place them in tanks. There, oyster larvae attach to the shells, which are later provided to oyster gardeners and planted in Bay waterways to add to the state's oyster reefs. 

Residents can drop off shells left over after their meals or oyster roasts at public shell recycling bins. These are located throughout Hampton Roads, the Middle Peninsula, and the Northern Neck. Restaurants that serve oysters can sign up to donate their shells.

To sign up, call (757) 644-4125 or e-mail OysterGardener@cbf.org. To find public bin locations or participating restaurants, click here

-Laura Boycourt


Laura Boycourt