A Few More Reasons to Love Oysters

Did you know those dozen oysters you had at happy hour can help grow 120 new oysters? Thanks to the new initiative Ocean to Plate to Ocean, each oyster we serve at Boone’s will have the potential to become a home to as many as 10 oysters in the future. Ocean to Plate to Ocean was started by the Maine Coastal Program in collaboration with the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership. This initiative will be providing countless benefits to the growth of new oysters as well as the health of Maine’s coastal waters by recycling mollusk shells from participating restaurants.

Oysters are an invaluable cog in the ecosystem machine. One adult oyster can filter as much as 50 gallons of water each day. As these wonderful bivalves filter the water, they remove excess algae and nitrogen helping to keep our waters crystal clear. Water that isn’t clouded by algae allows more sunlight to penetrate to the bottom, which means more grasses are able to grow and there is more habitat for additional sea life such as fish and crabs. Creating an environment that caters to the growth of new oysters ensures cleaner waters, and arguably just as important – more oysters and other seafood to enjoy for years to come!

How will recycled shells become home to more oysters in the future? Oysters grow best when there are existing shells for the larvae to plant themselves on. Jessica Fu explains in her article, “Without shells on which to plant, larvae usually sink to the bottom of their marine environments and die.” Oyster shells not only pave the way for the next generation of oysters, but the shells themselves have qualities that counter ocean acidification. It seems the benefits of returning mollusk shells to the ocean are endless.

Ocean to Plate to Ocean specifically aims “to combat ocean acidification and help ensure tidal flats remain a favorable place for natural shellfish growth.” The initiative plans to reach its goals by collecting mollusk shells, aging the shells for 1 year to kill any pathogens and then they will return the shells to the ocean. The Maine Coastal Program recommends three ways you can help: “eat oysters at participating restaurants, spread the word about the importance of oyster shell recycling, and contact the Maine Coastal Program to see how you can get involved!” There are plenty of great reasons to enjoy oysters, and now thanks to Ocean to Plate to Ocean Boone’s can add even more reasons to the list. Cheers to that!

Sources:

Maine Coastal Program https://www.maine.gov/dmr/mcp/index.htm

Casco Bay Estuary Partnership https://www.cascobayestuary.org/

”Oyster shells used to end up in landfills. Now, they’re being turned into castles for baby oysters” https://newfoodeconomy.org/oyster-castle-reef-restoration-shell-recycling/

“Restaurants Are Returning Their Empty Oyster Shells To The Ocean To Rebuild Decimated Reefs” https://www.fastcompany.com/40436384/restaurants-are-returning-their-empty-oyster-shells-to-the-ocean-to-rebuild-decimated-reefs

“Recycling Oyster Shells Improves Water Quality, Oyster Population” https://www.voanews.com/a/oyster-recycling/4370449.html