Society for Experimental Biology. "Sea shells for sale: A new source of sustainable biomaterials."
July 5, 2017
Over 7 million tonnes of mollusc shells are discarded by the seafood industry each year as unwanted waste -- and the vast majority of these shells are either thrown in landfills or dumped at sea. Dr James Morris and a team of CACHE researchers from the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences are looking at environmentally and economically sustainable options for these biomaterials.
"Mollusc shells are viewed by the aquaculture and seafood industries as 'nuisance waste' and largely disposed of in landfills," says Dr Morris. "Not only is this an expensive and ecologically harmful practice, it is a colossal waste of potentially useful biomaterials."
One of the most exciting applications proposed by Dr Morris is the use of discarded shells to restore damaged oyster reefs and cultivate the growth of new oysters. The restoration of these reefs requires little money and effort, but can have huge ecological advantages. "Healthy shellfish populations can have many benefits to the environment: cleaning the water, providing a complex structure for other organisms to call home, and also acting as a coastal protection structure," explains Dr Morris.