Oyster Recycling at Kalmia Gardens

Kalmia Gardens, a part of Coker College,  is the latest public drop off location for oyster shell recycling.  Recycled oyster shells are used by S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to refurbish oyster grounds.  Shells provide the necessary hard substrate for juvenile oysters to attach and grow.  When oysters are harvested, some of the habitat for future generations is lost.  Replanting shells replaces this habitat and insures that our oyster populations will continue to thrive.

In addition to the oyster’s value as a food resource, oysters are also critical to the health of South Carolina estuaries and tidal creeks.  Oysters filter and clean water, control phytoplankton blooms, recycle nutrients, provide essential fish habitat and form natural breakwaters to reduce erosion.

Currently, less than 15% of the oysters harvested in South Carolina are recycled for resource management.  When the quantity of shells recycled is less than that needed for replanting DNR must purchase shells, usually from out of state sources.  Recycling your oyster shells can save DNR thousands of dollars annually, money which can be used towards more replanting.  Any clean oyster shell, whether local or imported, can be recycled at the DNR’s shell drop-off sites.  All shells will be quarantined before replanting to ensure that no diseases or invasive species enter local waters.  DNR asks that you remove all trash before placing your shells in the recycling area.

DNR maintains 26 recycling drop-off locations, predominantly along the SC coast, where the public can recycle their shells.  Maps of recycling drop-off sites and tips on shell recycling can be found at  http://saltwaterfishing.sc.gov/oyster.html or by calling (843) 953-9397.