O.Y.S.T.E.R, which stands for “Offer Your Shell To Enhance Restoration” is a new pilot program in Franklin County that will recycle oyster shells from participating restaurants and use them in restoration projects.
Most of the oyster shells consumed at restaurants end up in the landfill. The Oyster Corps will pick-up oyster shells from restaurants and recycle them in restoration projects.
Participating restaurants are supplied with lidded five-gallon buckets and are asked to save the top shell from the oysters they shuck. The Oyster Corps will pick up the discarded shells twice per week and leave clean buckets. The shells will be cured, then used to build shallow water breakwaters to help protect the US 98 shoreline through the Franklin 98 Project and at the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Lab for the Apalachicola Bay Systems Initiative for placing spat on shell for research to help with the restoration of Apalachicola Bay.
The Oyster Corps is a new program under the Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coast, a program that trains young adults on restoration practices. Now in its sixth year, the Conservation Corps has a history of completing significant environmental restoration projects, responding to disasters, and meeting critical community needs. The Corps has employed, trained and provided service opportunities to over 210 young adults, earning over 1,080 industry certifications, completing over 160 conservation/construction projects, and responding to seven regional disasters.
These oysters shells can go toward protecting our shorelines instead of in the landfill, said Kim Wren with the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve. Oysters are a keystone species in Apalachicola Bay. They create habitat providing shelter and food for hundreds of creatures. Recycled oyster shell can be used to build reefs to reduce shoreline erosion, provide habitat for over 300 species of marine organisms, and keep spent shells from restaurants out of the landfill.
If you would like to be a participating restaurant, please contact Anita Grove at the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve at [email protected] or call 653-5951.