While Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg inspires youth from around the world to solve the environmental crisis, right here in Severna Park, we can do our part to restore clean water just by eating oysters!
Well, more accurately, by recycling the oyster shells.
Once the Chesapeake’s most plentiful fishery, the oyster population has been shellacked by overharvesting, disease and degraded water-quality conditions. Oysters have been overharvested, resulting in dreadful water quality grades and a suffering economy. Captain John Smith, the first English explorer to sail the Chesapeake Bay, experienced great difficulty navigating as he noted the oysters laid “thick as stones.” Today, the opposite is true, and, as the Shell Recycling Alliance suggests, it is our duty to shuck responsibly.
In 1980, the total dockside value of the Chesapeake oyster harvest was $29.3 million; in 2001, it was $4.3 million – more than an 85% decline. Maryland has a history steeped in boating, swimming and fishing with a responsibility to restore not only the environment but also the economy that depends upon it.
Small Maryland businesses are doing their part. In Pasadena, Bahama Mike’s, Mike’s Crab House North, Mutiny Pirate Bar and Island Grille, Twain’s Tavern and others participate in the Oyster Recovery Partnership through shell recycling. Just up the road in Severna Park, Brian Boru Irish Restaurant and Cafe Mezzanotte participate in oyster recovery efforts. Many more delicious eateries from Millersville to Annapolis partner in this critical recycling alliance as well. Visit www.oysterrecovery.org to see all the locations doing their part to bolster oyster restoration efforts.
The shells collected from these partners are sent to an environmental research lab and oyster hatchery on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where they are cured, power-washed, and put to work as settling material for the billions of oyster larvae that are planted to replenish reefs in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Just one adult oyster can filter as much as 50 gallons of water a day. This is vital component to ensuring a cleaner, safer bay.
The Office of the Comptroller is committed to doing what we can to help restore the oyster population. Maryland’s Oyster Shell Recycling Tax Credit allows an individual or corporation to claim an income tax credit of $5 per bushel of recycled oyster shells, for a credit up to $1,500. To claim the credit, you must receive certification from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. By simply collecting the shells and returning them to a designated site, you could help grow more oysters, pay less taxes, and promote a better bay!
To learn more about the Oyster Shell Recycling Tax Credit, visit www.marylandtaxes.gov.
Oyster season is now underway – enjoy shucking responsibly while supporting our wonderful, locally-owned restaurants!