The troubled Northland oyster industry is looking to clean up its act by recycling shells, which could see the by-product fetching more than the meat.
Project Oyster Shell is a three-year scheme to remove and recycle thousands of shells on the 24 farms in the Waikare Inlet, in the Bay of Islands.
The farms closed down several years ago because of water quality problems, but those have been resolved and the farms now need to clean up waste shells to meet council compliance rules.
The industry also came to a near-standstill last year as a herpes virus infected about two-thirds of the country's marine farms.
The project is a joint-venture between local government, the economic development body Enterprise Northland, oyster farmers, and MAF.
It proposes to clean up 6500 tonnes of waste shell over the next three years, at a cost of almost $4 million.
The Government's waste minimisation fund will cover half of that.
Project manager Jacquie Reed says it's a scheme that could transform the $30 million industry at a time when it most needs it.
She says there are two initiatives, which are commercially sensitive, but will look at selling the shells to produce a product which will be quite innovative.
Ms Reed says they're now waiting on resource consents to be approved so they can begin recycling the shells.