Have you ever wondered what happens to the shells after you’ve enjoyed mussels, oysters and other fresh ocean molluscs at the Market? As with so much of the Market’s “rubbish”, the shells don’t go to waste – they are returned to the sea to help rebuild shellfish reefs under the Shuck Don’t Chuck program.
The Market began contributing shells to The Nature Conservancy’s award winning community program in 2017, and thanks to our customers’ enthusiasm for delicious fresh seafood, continues to be the biggest contributor to Shuck Don’t Chuck in Victoria. This means that every time you snack on a scallop, feast on oysters or munch on mussels from our traders, you are helping to create reefs that act as nurseries for new shellfish and provide numerous other environmental benefits such as water filtration.
In 2019, the Market recycled over 114m3 of shells (31.5 tonnes) which have contributed to rebuilding more than one hectare of new shellfish reefs in Port Phillip Bay in 2020 and beyond. The total amount of shells recycled in 2019 by all contributing partners was 286m3 (79 tonnes) and the grand total since the inception of the project in 2016 is 1121m3 (308 tonnes).
While oyster shells are recycled year round at the Market, it’s not surprising that during our popular Mussel Festival, there is a massive spike in the amount of mussel shells collected. In fact over the two days that the festival runs, five tonnes of mussels are consumed. What a waste it would be if all those shells simply went to landfill!
Instead, thanks to the partnership with The Nature Conservancy, they will contribute to forming three hectares of new native oyster reef across sites in Victoria. Additionally, the area of restored oyster reef will be more than doubled from 2.5 to 5.5 hectares by installing the equivalent of twelve 250m2 shellfish reefs with five million oysters across three sites, including near St Kilda.
So keep on enjoying those mussels, oysters and scallops – our seas are counting on you to help them stay healthy!