- Associated Press - Friday, November 27, 2015

BURAS, La. (AP) - Standing amid mounds of discarded oyster shells, restaurant workers and oil company employees have been hard at work gathering the shells in preparation for them to be returned to the ocean to create spawning areas for oysters.

Volunteers from Shell Oil and New Orleans restaurant group Dickie Brennan & Co. earlier this month shoveled 19 tons of oyster shells into bags in Plaquemines Parish, The Advocate reports (https://goo.gl/KuFVjE). The bags will be placed into wire containers and then used to build a half mile of barrier reef next year along a shoreline in the Biloxi Marsh in St. Bernard Parish.

Participating restaurants in New Orleans have discarded about 1,300 tons of oyster shells since 2014 for the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana.

It could take about 30 days of such work to get the entire amount ready for next year, Coalition Executive Director Kimberly D. Reyher said.

Dickie Brennan, one of the managing partners in Dickie Brennan & Co., said that he had previously noticed the piles of limestone that oystermen ship in to create spawning areas for their oyster beds.

“(I thought), ‘We have the shells; let’s put them back in the water,’” Brennan said.

Recycling the shells for use on the coast had percolated for years, but there was always the question of the cost of getting the shells from the restaurants to the coast.

A $1 million grant from Shell in 2013 answered that question, and it was a matter of just months before contracts were in place to move the shells.

“Our future lives with this,” said Jamie Munoz, general manager of the Bourbon House, a Brennan-owned seafood restaurant that has been involved in the program since the beginning. “If you want to keep serving oysters, we need to start saving oysters.”

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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