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Federation seeks oyster shell for habitat restoration projects

Collected oyster shell is used to for habitat restoration. Photo: North Carolina Coastal Federation

Posted on October 13, 2021

The North Carolina Coastal Federation is asking your help to give oysters a second chance by recycling your oyster shells.

Once shells are collected, the federation works with partners to return them to the water where they provide new habitat for fish and shellfish. Whether from an oyster roast, restaurant, or backyard cook out, every shell collected can help protect and restore the coast, the nonprofit said Monday.

The federation oversees several shell recycling stations along the coast to help make the process easy.

The federation said oyster shell is a valuable resource in North Carolina that can cost up to $3 per bushel when purchased for coastal restoration. It is illegal to dump the shells in North Carolina landfills. From 2003 to 2018, the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries operated a state-funded oyster shell recycling program that provided 6-15% of the shell needed for restoration projects. The state-run oyster shell recycling program ended in 2018 due to budget cuts and staff reductions.

The federation said its recycling program is filling the gap by providing a way for people and businesses to support a healthy coastal environment and keep shells out of the trash.

“The Town of Duck is happy to provide an oyster shell recycling collection site at the Town Park, making it more convenient for our restaurants, residents, and visitors to contribute to this program that restores habitat for the North Carolina coast,” said Duck Public Information and Events Director Christian Legner.

Duck is just one of numerous shell drop-off points along the coast.

For a complete list of coastwide recycling sites visit the federation’s website.

For more information about the Recycling for Reefs program or to volunteer contact federation Coastal Specialist Leslie Vegas at 252-473-1607 or


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