MYSTIC, Conn. (WTNH) — Each year, the Oyster Club in Mystic shucks about 300,000 oysters, and another 100,000 clams. Those used to be thrown away, but, now they’ll help bring new life to aquatic ecosystems in a partnership meant to help both businesses and the environment.
“Any time you put something in your dumpster, you’re paying for that to be picked up and hauled away,” said Dan Meiser, who owns the Oyster Club.
He’s teamed up with the state and organizations like Connecticut Sea Grant to develop an initiative to recycle raw oyster shells.
“They are the building blocks of oyster reefs,” said Tessa Getchis, an extension educator for Connecticut Sea Grant.
Juvenile oysters need to attach to the shells of other oysters in order to grow. Recycling the shells help to reinvigorate reef, which in turn bolsters the ecosystem and helps prevent flooding.
Once oysters are shucked, however, they can’t just be thrown into the water. They need to be cleaned and cured so they don’t introduce more problems to the beds.
It’s a process that can take six months.
Mike Gilman, the shell recycling coordinator for the state, said that the first step is finding a place where the raw shells can dry and cure. Then, the group has to find restaurants that will help with storing the separated shells.
“Especially in the summertime, when we’re busy, you know, you’re talking about bugs and all sorts of weird smells coming off the shells,” Meiser said.
Lawmakers approved funding for the program two years ago.
“This is something that I would hope we would continue to fund in the future, depending on the results,” Sen. Heather Somers (R-District 18).