SUMMARY AS INTRODUCED:
Oyster shell recycling tax credit. Creates a nonrefundable tax credit for taxable years 2023 through 2027 for a taxpayer engaged in the donation of oyster shells for use in oyster restoration projects. The bill specifies that, in order to qualify for the credit, a taxpayer must donate the oyster shells to either the Virginia Marine Resources Commission or a nonprofit entity engaged in oyster restoration activities. A taxpayer who qualifies for the credit created by the bill will be allowed a credit of $4.00 per bushel of oyster shells, not to exceed $1,500 per taxpayer in a taxable year and subject to an aggregate annual cap of $250,000.
First - a few things about oysters -
Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) are native to the Atlantic Coast and Chesapeake Bay regions, where they spawn in salty or brackish water once the ocean temperature reaches about 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
A female oyster can produce more than 100 million eggs in one season. Once the female oyster releases eggs into the water, they fuse with more than 2 billion sperm released by a male oyster.
Two weeks or so after fusing, the oyster larvae drop to the ocean floor and look for something hard to attach to.
Only about a million larvae survive their first few weeks of life, but most do not survive longer than that due to poor water conditions, lack of substrate to attach to and predators like mud crabs and blue crabs. The ones that do survive are able to reproduce during their first year of life.
Why recycling oyster shells is important:
Recycled oyster shells are the best surface for the baby spat to cling to. Without these old shells — and without high populations of oysters producing new shells — there are just not enough suitable places left for baby oyster spat to attach. Therefore, it is important to recycle oyster shells because they are the best surface for the spat to grow and they help restore oyster reefs.
Simply put, oyster populations in the Chesapeake Bay, its tributaries and throughout the Eastern Shore area have declined significantly in the past and will not be restored on their own.
One of the big reasons for this decline is historic overfishing and removal of oyster “reefs” for building material. Recently, diseases like MSX and Dermo have also caused population declines.
HB1438 gives restaurants (and other places that have oyster events) a small tax incentive credit to recycle used oyster shells. The small incentive will contribute to a significant increase of oyster shells being reintroduced to the Chesapeake Bay. Each Bushel is 60 pounds (about 250 shells). This tax incentive will put more shells back in the water and very little expense to government revenue.
I call this the "Moe's Monday" effect. Moe's sells burritos for about $3 less than normal on Monday's. As a result, lines are always out the door. When we give restaurants incentive, I believe they will respond the same way.
Rebuilding oyster reefs is a major component of clean water. Oysters can each filter up to 50 gallons of water a day as well as build reefs that serve as homes to more than a hundred different species of fish, crabs, shrimp and other marine life. These reefs also act as natural breakwaters, absorbing the waves and protecting shorelines from erosion. 1 Million oysters = 50,000,000 gallons of filtered water EACH DAY.
A clean Chesapeake Bay benefits all Virginia. I hope to have your support for HB1438.
Contribution for facts in this email be found here: