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SC - In South Carolina Oyster Shell Recycling Helps Rebuild Reefs With Many Benefits

Videos show how species, ecosystem, and communities win from local participation in programs

Throughout South Carolina’s Low Country, the oyster roast is a staple within a deep and rich culinary culture. But Palmetto State shellfish lovers may not know that their state needs their help recovering oyster shells. Because the vast majority of harvested shells are not recycled, South Carolina must buy oyster shells from other states to replenish its own reefs, which are critical habitat for the species and important features of healthy coastal ecosystems.

Oyster reefs help protect shorelines, filter water, and provide habitat for both their primary residents and a range of other wildlife. Sadly, U.S. native oyster populations have declined to a fraction of their historic levels because of over harvesting, pollution, and habitat destruction. But rebuilding shellfish habitats is one of the most promising opportunities for reviving coastal ecosystems, and states’ investments in oyster reef restoration have yielded results in recent years.

To encourage shell recycling, South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources, with assistance from Pew, The Outside Foundation, and the Coastal Conservation League, just released three videos online. The first, “The Importance of the Oyster,” is about the many benefits these bivalves offer to South Carolinians, including protection from storms, habitat for wildlife, cleaner water, and sustainable, local seafood.

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