Water-Related News

Tampa Bay Watch repurposes shucked oyster shells to restore the shore

Shucked shells are helping restore water quality and important oyster reef habitats in Tampa Bay.

Tampa Bay Watch, the nonprofit environmental organization, collaborated with the Gulf Region Oyster Network to launch the “Shells for Shorelines” program last fall. Several local restaurants are taking part.

The program started with one restaurant in a February 2022 pilot phase and now has 14 participating, says Richard Radigan, manager of Tampa Bay Watch’s Oyster Shell Program.

Most of the restaurants are in Pinellas County, but one is in Hillsborough, he says. There are plans to expand to other counties.

“We’re always looking for more restaurants,” Radigan says.

The program is funded by Duke Energy, Neptune Flood and a $1.1 million grant through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Restore America’s Estuaries. Restaurant operators’ reaction to the shell recycling initiative has been “overwhelmingly positive,” Radigan says.