Delaware Public Media

19 restaurants recycling oyster shells for shoreline preservation

Mar 16, 2017

A program in Sussex County lets you help protect Delaware’s shoreline just by eating some oysters.


19 restaurants in Sussex County are participating in this year’s Don’t Chuck Your Shucks program.


Instead of chucking your shucked oysters in the trash, the wait staff at these restaurants toss, throw or even fling your spent shells in a special recycling bin.


The shells are then cleaned, cured and piled along Delaware’s coast to create living shorelines that prevent erosion.


“What we’re trying to do on living shoreline projects is mimic nature. The perfect living shoreline, if there were such a thing, would be to use all natural materials,” said Bob Collins, who manages Don’t Chuck Your Shucks for Delaware’s Center for the Inland Bays.


Collins said wild shellfish and grasses colonize the used oyster shells and create a natural structure for preventing erosion.


SoDel Concepts Vice President, Doug Ruley, pushes shell into the 'Oyster Master' bagging system on Friday, March 10th.
Credit Center for the Inland Bays

Restaurants are hoping to collect 3,000 bushels of clam, mussel and oyster shells this year.


The program collected 2,700 bushels of shells last year, which was the most since it began in 2014.


Don’t Chuck Your Shucks officially kicked off at the Georgetown Fire Company’s 80th annual Oyster Eat last month, where 16 bushels of shells were collected.


What is a Living Shoreline?
Credit DNREC

Participating restaurants:

  • 99 Sea Level
  • Bethany Beach Oyster House
  • Bluecoast Seafood Grill
  • Catch 54
  • Chesapeake & Maine
  • Fish On
  • George & Sons Seafood Market
  • Hammerheads Dockside
  • Henlopen City Oyster House
  • Hooked
  • Hooked-Up
  • Irish Eyes Pub & Restaurant
  • Just Hooked
  • Twining's Lobster Shanty
  • Malts' Fish Camp
  • Off the Hook
  • Smitty McGees
  • The Starboard Raw
  • Zoggs Raw Bar & Grilll