A couple weeks ago I posted that Orange County was starting an oyster shell recycling program. Well today it looks like a federal grant will offer fisherman $2 a bushel to plant those shells on reefs off of North Carolina's coast. Basically the shells provide a great habitat for shellfish to spawn on and grow.
If your not aware oysters have had it rough over the last 100 years. Some reports estimate that todays population is merely 1% of the total historical population. Overfishing is one of the causes, but pollution has also lead to the destruction of oyster habitats. Dermo an oyster disease which spread to the Pamlico Sound in th 90's is also responsible for killing off large populations of oysters before they could reach adulthood.
Fortunately it looks like federal and state governments are taking the right steps to spur population growth. The Coastal Federation who is administering the project recieved $5 million from the federal Recovery Act. The plan is to plant 41,000 bushels of shells, but a large portion of the money will be invested in two oyster sanctuaries in the Pamlico Sound. I recently had the opportunity to attend an oyster roast, so I'm hoping with this news there will be many more to come.