The shells are cast-asides from the heady days before the coronavirus pandemic, back when New Orleans’ vaunted seafood restaurants were crammed with customers. The eateries were producing about 75 tons of shells per month for the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, which runs New Orleans’ 7-year-old oyster recycling program.
The vast majority of oyster shells taken from the Gulf of Mexico never make it back. Instead, they end up in landfills or get crushed into chicken feed or road bed material.
“It’s the raw material of Louisiana, and it should be going back out here — not the dump,” Kimberly Davis Reyher, the coalition’s executive director, said while watching the Barataria reef’s construction.