It’s no secret that oyster farming is good for the environment. But if that doesn’t convince you to give the shellfish a try, maybe this will: The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has announced the launch of Save Our Shells, an initiative to collect discarded shellfish shells from partner restaurants and oyster farmers to build new, native oyster reefs in Hong Kong.
Nine catering outlets, including Alibi – Wine Dine Be Social at Cordis Hotel; Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club; The Verandah at The Repulse Bay and the Tsim Sha Tsui and Tsuen Wan branches of Oyster Station, have joined oyster farmers in Deep Bay to support the pilot project using recycled shells to rebuild reefs.
“TNC’s Save Our Shells project shows that Mother Nature leaves nothing to waste,” said Lulu Zhou, director of strategic partnerships for TNC in Asia Pacific. “Shells of oysters and other shellfish consist of calcium carbonate and have traditionally been used as a house building material. Today, we are using the shells to build a new place for baby oysters to settle and for fish and other marine life to call home.”
Read more: Best sustainable restaurants in Hong Kong
Through the project, discarded shells are collected and transported to a recycling site at Ha Pak Nai in Yuen Long, where they are left to weather outdoors to avoid any biosecurity risks. Next, they are taken to TNC’s reef restoration sites in Lau Fau Shan and Tolo Harbour and placed in the sea for juvenile oysters to grow.
The reefs are natural water filters, providing feeding grounds and nursing habitat for many aquatic species. Nicknamed “ecosystem engineers”, oysters help improve water quality, increase biodiversity and stabilise shorelines.
TNC is in the process of recruiting more restaurants to join the project. To help rebuild Hong Kong’s damaged oyster reefs, the group encourages you to enjoy oysters at participating restaurants.