As you are already aware, shucked oyster shell is vital to the State's efforts to enhance the native oyster population. Oyster shell is the most natural, cost effective and efficient material to repopulate the Bay's native oyster population and used by the UMD Horn Point and DNR Piney Point hatcheries to create spat on shell (shell with baby oysters attached) that is used to rebuild derelict oyster reefs. This shell is a limited natural resource which is crucial in providing natural habitat for new oysters in the Chesapeake Bay.
Current and future demands for oyster shell exceed available and projected supply from historical, local sources. However, recycled shell offers the State a cost effective way to gather additional shell that is currently being thrown into landfills. It is estimated that over 20 million oysters are consumed annually in our region which would equate to 50,000 bushels of recycled shell or 15% of projected annual needs.
To meet restoration needs and reduce the amount of waste in our landfills, oyster shell recycling incentive bills, House Bill 184 and Senate Bill 484, have been introduced to the Maryland State Legislature. These bills allow an individual or corporation to receive a tax credit which promotes shell recycling. Read the House Bill HERE and Senate Bill HERE.
At this point, your restaurants are not compensated for the shell that is collected in spite of your valuable efforts in consolidation and proper storage of your shell. These current recycling bills allow an individual or corporation may claim a credit against the Maryland State Income Tax equal to $1 for each bushel of oyster shells recycled during the taxable year. The maximum for a restaurant or corporation being $750.
ORP is a strong supporter of this legislation and if passed into law will allow us to continue oyster restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay, as well as support aquaculture efforts throughout the State If you would like to write a letter of support for the passing of these Bills, please email us firstname.lastname@example.org or click HERE for a template for your own letter of support.
If passed, this could be a positive precedent for shell recycling initiatives in other states!
Upcoming hearings on the Bills:
MD House of Delegates: Hearing on February 19 at 1:00 PM. Located in the House Office Building Ways and Means Committee Room 131.
MD Senate: Hearing on February 27 at 2:00 PM. Located on the 3rd Floor of the Senate Miller Building, Budget and Taxation Committee Room 3W.