A large crowd of people gathered together last week at the Original Oyster House in Gulf Shores to celebrate the restaurant’s ceremonial ribbon cutting for joining the Alabama Oyster Shell …
A large crowd of people gathered together last week at the Original Oyster House in Gulf Shores to celebrate the restaurant’s ceremonial ribbon cutting for joining the Alabama Oyster Shell Recycling Program.
The effort is spearheaded by the Alabama Coastal Foundation and made possible through a two-year grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The program will recycle oyster shells from restaurants and get them back into Alabama waters, enhancing oyster production, among other benefits.
The NFWF grant pays for oyster shell recycling education and bins, the drop off and pick up of the bins and the cleanup for the bins. That was transition is key for encouraging restaurants to participate, according to Joe Roszkowski, co-founder of the Original Oyster House restaurants, who was one of the first restauranteurs to sign up for the program.
“The program aligns with our core value of stewardship,” Roszkowski said. “As sponsors of the Oyster Trail and Mobile’s Oyster Gardening Program, we learned how oysters impact our environment, our economics and our health. For years, these dedicated scientists, environmentalists and educators have worked to get oyster shells back into the water. We were so grateful to have been given an opportunity to pilot Alabama’s first oyster shell recycling program in October at our location on the Mobile Causeway and are proud to continue it here in Gulf Shores. What a blessing it is to live in one of the most beautiful places and that we can make a difference doing what we love - eating oysters.”
Mark Berte, executive director of the Alabama Coastal Foundation, said he was thrilled to have the Original Oyster House join with more with a dozen other local restaurants contributing to the program.
“By participating in the Oyster Shell Recycling Program, local restaurants save on waste disposal costs and help support a commercial fishery that is essential to their business and the local economy,” Berte said. “Six restaurants participated in phase one that piloted this program on our Causeway Route. We were so successful that we expanded the route ahead of schedule and added two restaurants in Mobile and one in Fairhope. In addition, we’ve started phase two, the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach route ahead of schedule with the addition of seven more restaurants. To date, we have 16 partners and hope to double that number this summer.”
In the 12 weeks since the program began, the ACF has estimated collections of almost 650,000 oyster shells, which equals about 11 dump trucks of oyster shells or 1.5 acres of coverage.
The ACF estimates in 2017 the program will collect over 2.7 shells, which is equal to about seven acres or the weight of 60 elephants.