To encourage more businesses and people to recycle oyster shells, Maryland Delegate Stephen Lafferty of Baltimore County and colleagues recently proposed legislation that would give income tax credits worth a dollar per bushel for contributing old shells to oyster restoration projects.
“We have been seeing over past decades a real loss in the amount of shell that is available for oyster restoration projects,” said Lafferty (below). “And oyster shell really is the best surface upon which new oysters can grow in the Bay.”
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and other partners in a coalition called the Oyster Recovery Partnership for the last four years have been encouraging recycling through the “S.O.S.” or “Save Oyster Shell” campaign.
Karl Willey, Oyster Restoration Program Manager at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said he hopes the Maryland General Assembly will pass the legislation to create the financial incentive. “I think the bill will help educate people about the value of oyster shells, and the need to recycle oysters in the Chesapeake Bay,” said Willey (pictured above left).
For thousands of years, oysters defined Chesapeake Bay. Today, only a tiny percentage of their historic populations remain because of overharvesting, pollution, and disease.
But oysters still define Chesapeake restaurants.
At the Hellas restaurant in Millersille, Maryland, for example, co-owner Michael Stavlas recently brought out a tray heaped with several of his oyster delicacies. The aroma made my stomach growl.