Oyster Shell Recycling Project Off to Strong Start

WELLFLEET – The Massachusetts Oyster Project and the Town of Wellfleet have partnered up to create an oyster shell recycling program, and organizers report the first season is having a robust start.

The Massachusetts Oyster Project is a local all-volunteer non-profit working to benefit the coastal ecosystem.

“One oyster a day will filter 50 gallons of water,” said Lucas Baybutt, the supervisor for the Shell Recycling Program, describing the oyster growing process.

“And in three years they’ll become fully mature and because we’re re-growing the shells it doesn’t necessarily make for the largest oyster to eat, but after three years they’ll get to be as big as the commercial oysters.”

Together with eight local restaurants, the effort is striving to keep oysters out of landfills and repurpose them to naturally aid in coastal restoration and stimulate wild oyster growth.

The collaborating restaurants include The Beachcomber, Mac’s Seafood Shack, Pearl, The Wicked Oyster, Winslow’s Tavern. Van Rensselaer’s, CShore and Moby Dicks.

The project receives funding from 11th Hour Racing’s Ambassador Project, which seeks to promote systemic environmental change by connecting marine industry professionals with the maritime community.

Oysters annually contribute over $7.7 million and 10 percent of jobs to Wellfleet’s economy. Wellfleet leads the state in wholesale revenue from oyster sales.

Baybutt expressed a desire to extend the program into the winter months  as well as to expand to other restaurants.

“I think the most important part for me is to let the younger generation understand that the work we’re doing is very important,” said Baybutt.

“It may not be parking cars at the Chatham Bars Inn, or making tips all night bartending, but its really important to get this program off the ground, because if this is something that is so successful in just one summer then I wouldn’t see why it wouldn’t be in every restaurant in Massachusetts.”


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