American Littoral Society, The Lusty Lobster, and the National Park Service Collaborate to Launch Innovative Program

Sandy Hook, NJ - The American Littoral Society based on Sandy Hook is in partnership with The Lusty Lobster in Highlands and the National Park Service to launch an oyster shell recycling program in Monmouth County. 

This program in New Jersey demonstrates how restaurants can turn oyster shells normally thrown out as waste into a recyclable resource used for restoring and enhancing fisheries through restoration of lost oyster reefs.  Ongoing and innovative efforts to restore important bay habitats, such as rebuilding oyster reefs, is a priority for the Society. This program will be a building block to returning oyster populations to local waterways.

Successful shell recycling programs are already running in several states including Rhode Island, Virginia and Maryland.  The American Littoral Society researched these models with a grant funded by NOAA and Restore Americas Estuaries; the same funding supported the Society's building an oyster reef off Good Luck Point in Berkeley Township, NJ.

Many waterways in Monmouth historically held some of the most prolific and extensive oyster beds in the region.

Currently the Society will be collecting the shells and planning future restoration projects with the oyster shells from the recycling program to create a complete "circle of life." 

"Shell recycling is a great program to engage and educate the public while also providing materials needed to improve the health of waterways in the county. The Society has already launched the pilot program in Barnegat Bay and we hope the program will grow," says Captain Alek Modjeski, Habitat Restoration Director of the American Littoral Society.   

Doug Douty is the owner of The Lusty Lobster and also a trustee of the American Littoral Society.   In addition to Lusty Lobster saving their own shells, Douty has secured the involvement of the Oyster Point Hotel, the Molly Pitcher Hotel, Navesink Country Club, Rumson Country Club, the Inlet Café, Woody's Ocean Grille, Rooney's Oceanfront Restaurant, Taka, Bahr's Landing Seafood Restaurant, and Moby's.   "Just within the first few days of the roll out of the program we are fortunate to have so many restaurants sign on  to participate - I expect many more will want to join as it's easy for the restaurants to implement and a win-win situation for all involved.  We are happy to be able to provide the trucks and drivers to transport the recycled shells from the restaurants to the storage area for future use by the American Littoral Society.  I hope everyone will patronize these places and eat lots of oysters!"

The National Park Service, Gateway National Recreation Area, Sandy Hook Unit has signed on a as a partner of the Oyster Recycling Program as well.   The park will provide storage for the shells, where they have to rest for one year before they can be reintroduced to the water.    "The American Littoral Society is headquartered on Sandy Hook and a valuable park partner, and we are happy to help in this way," said Pete McCarthy, Sandy Hook Unit Coordinator.

Executive Director Tim Dillingham states, "This project will educate the public about oysters and their importance to local waters. Reefs provide important habitat for many different types of marine life, while oysters also play an important role in improving water quality.  One adult oyster can filter and clean up to 50 gallons of water per day.  Establishing a large scale shell recycling program for the State is the goal of the Society and would create jobs.  The program will reduce waste going into our landfills and also offer an economic benefit to participating restaurants by reducing the waste they generate. Reefs also protect local coastlines from storm damage as they break up the impact of waves.  This project is all about creating new fish habitat and improving water quality.  We have some real leaders in the community that understand the connection of shell recycling to healthier waterways and a healthier economy. We appreciate their partnership and support." 

For more information about the American Littoral Society or to become a member, please visit www.littoralsociety.org or call 732-291-0055.   To learn more about The Lusty Lobster, visit. www.bestlobster.org     To plan your visit to Sandy Hook, visit http://www.nps.gov/gate/planyourvisit/thingstodosandyhook.htm