October 20, 2011- Shell Recycling Project Secures Funding for Workshop

Shells of bivalves such as clams, scallops and oysters are routinely discarded along with household and commercial trash, when in reality; they are a valuable, renewable resource. Shell provides necessary substrate for metamorphosing oyster larvae as well as habitat for other benthic organisms. Bivalve shells are comprised mainly of calcium carbonate and buffer acidified waters which can inhibit calcification of some aquatic organisms, including shellfish. Ocean acidification is becoming more common and severe as our oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, making the need for a shell-buffer even greater. 

Hundreds of cubic yards of shell are brought to the island by shellfish managers each year for these reasons, while dumpsters outside restaurants are filled with shells destined for off-island landfill. As part of the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group Inc, the MV Shell Recovery Partnership was initiated in 2011 by former MVSG summer employee, Jessie Kanozak to balance this equation and with the goals of:
1.    Providing a local resource of shell and maintain local shellfish habitat
2.    Using the natural buffering properties of shells to reduce the negative effects of water acidification on benthic organisms, including shellfish
3.    Recycling shell to reduce bulk waste from the Martha’s Vineyard waste stream

During the summer of 2011, Ms. Kanozak recovered shell from a total of seven restaurants in West Tisbury (1 restaurant), Edgartown (2) and Oak Bluffs (4), with the help of two volunteers. Over 1,700 gallons of shell were collected from June through August, including many collections by volunteers and non-commercial shell donors. Participating businesses enjoyed a diligent 6 days/week shell pick up & clean bucket drop off schedule and pledge continuing support of the Shell Recovery Partnership. 

In order to share the goals of the Partnership and receive input from the community, as well as build working relationships with other organizations, the Shellfish Group applied for funding from the MV Vision Fellowship to organize a half day session of information sharing and discussion, including a speaker involved from a successful off-Island shell recycling program to share his/her knowledge and experiences.

On October 20th, the Shellfish Group received a $2,500 Vision Community grant from the Fellowship to organize the workshop. The workshop will take place in January. Please stay tuned for exact date and agenda.