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Oyster shell tax credit aimed to help rebuild LA coast

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BATON ROUGE- 100 yards of Louisiana's coast disappears every 90 minutes, and the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana works to rebuild it using donated empty shells.

They have built 8,000 feet of oyster reefs, and with more than 2 million pounds of shells donated last year, they have more work to do. They're hoping that number will grow after a tax credit was signed into law this week.

"$1.00 per 50 lbs of oyster shells can cost up to $2,000.00," Tyler Bosworth with the CRCL said.

Recycling oysters is something Acme Oyster House is already doing at their NOLA locations, but with the tax break, they will now do it at the Baton Rouge location. The recycling can cost around $4,000.00 a year.

"It will alleviate the burden of the cost entirely [for our small restaurant partners], for our larger partners, it'll cut it virtually in half," Bosworth said.

The six Acme Oyster House serves 10 million oysters a year altogether. Oyster shucker Dwayne Latimore says he'll keep on shucking his entire shift.

"How many oysters do I do? It's a lot," Latimore added.

All those shells are going to the landfill, but soon they will go to the coast. Bosworth says they have a process where the shells sit for an entire year before being bagged and put out by volunteers.

"Not only does recycling oyster shells for coastal restoration purposes benefit coastal restoration, it benefits the fisheries as a whole because it is the best material for them to build on," Bosworth said.

Donated shells won't only be used for the coast.

"Other folks like oyster men can take that and put them back on private leases," Bosworth said. "Those are fisheries, not protected. We see a wide ecological benefit and a fisheries benefit to this as well."

The tax credit goes into effect next year.

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