Thursday, March 7, 2013

Oyster Shell Recycling Program Expands

Mass Oyster has been carefully growing its oyster shell recycling program and is happy to announce the addition of the North End Fish Market. The Mercato del Mare on 99 Salem Street in Boston's North End has joined the team.

Liz and Keri offer a popular oyster shucking school, Shuck University on Saturday afternoons from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. The lesson is free, you pay for what you shuck. To reserve a spot email

Liz and Keri at the North End Fish Market
Liz and Kerk of North End Fish know how to shuck!
While you are there, you can pick up some terrific seafood- fresh, ready to heat for dinner, or wrapped with style as sushi.

Once we have collected the shell and taken it to our storage/processing facility, the shell must be aged for a year according to State regulations. After serving its time, the shell can be used at shellfish hatcheries as a base for young oysters to grow on, or it can be placed on the bottom in areas with an oyster population creating more places for the free floating young oysters to settle and make a home. This can help increase the oyster population significantly.

Recycled shell Mass Oyster donated to Wellfleet has helped create an area with an estimated 16 million oysters.


  1. What a wonderful program you guys have! I'm just curious.. what do you mean when you say a shell must be "aged" for a year? Is this done in some sort of sanitizing solution or are they just left out?

    1. Oyster shells can carry diseases- the two most prominent are MSX and Dermo. Since our shell comes from a variety of locations where there may or may not be disease, the shell is stored for a period of time until it is safe. Massachusetts has some of the tightest restrictions on shell reuse so we keep it a year.

      We have a multistep process. First the shell is placed in black barrels, which heat up in the sun on warm days. After a period of about three weeks, we will move them to open air containers, such as modified pallets or milk crates with lots of holes for further aging.

      By following this procedure, we minimize any odors, and keep things organized.

      We are still learning and refining our process- but it is growing and gaining momentum.

      To learn more about the program you can go to the link below.