Expanded artificial reef project to restore Albany’s Oyster Harbour

  • McGowan Government progresses election commitment to restore reefs in Oyster Harbour
  • $1 million project to build reefs from natural rubble and stocked with locally grown native oysters
  • The project aims to help improve recfishing, biodiversity and water quality in Oyster Harbour

The McGowan Government today launched a $1 million project to restore oyster reefs in Albany’s Oyster Harbour to progress on an election commitment to help improve recfishing, biodiversity and water quality in Oyster Harbour.

The project will work to enhance the marine environment of Albany’s well known Oyster Harbour and restore the habitat of the threatened Australian Flat Oyster. Once abundant throughout the bays and estuaries of southern Australia from Perth to Sydney, 99 per cent of Australian Flat Oyster reefs have been wiped out.

The project will cover an 800 square metre area and comes after trials on a smaller site that have proved very promising.

Guided by The Nature Conservancy, which has already restored reef habitat in South Australia and Victoria, the project is funded by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, and supported by Recfishwest, The University of Western Australia, Great Southern Development Commission and South Coast NRM groups.

Locally sourced natural rubble will be used to build the new artificial reefs that will become home to more than one million native oysters distributed over a series of reef segments.

As noted by Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly:

“This very exciting and innovative project begins to deliver on our election commitment to improve recfishing, biodiversity and water quality in Oyster Harbour.

“The project is funded by the McGowan Government and supported by the State’s Albany Shellfish Hatchery, where Australian Flat Oyster spat will be grown before they are used to stock the new reef habitat.

“A trial run for the project in Oyster Harbour has delivered some very promising results. Once the native oysters are re-established, popular recreational fishing species like whiting, bream and snapper are also expected to make the reef home, improving recreational fishing.

“As well as improving the biodiversity and recreational fishing opportunities in Oyster Harbour, this project is expected to improve water quality.”

As noted by Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan:

“The $1 million funding from the McGowan Government for phase two of this project will help to build 800 square metres of artificial reef, recognising the success of The Nature Conservancy first phase.

“This project will bring major environmental and social benefits to Albany as well as research opportunities for The University of Western Australia.”

As noted by Albany MLA Peter Watson:

“I am pleased that progress on this project will be shared with the Albany community through regular meetings to help inform local stakeholders and encourage citizen science monitoring.

“The Nature Conservancy will be building community awareness of the project through regular community forums, guest presentations and workshops about the Oyster Harbour project.

“The recreational fishing community can be happy in the knowledge that the return of the Australian Flat Oysters to the new artificial reef areas has the potential to create greater fishing opportunities for species like whiting, bream and snapper that will feed off the oysters and create a new marine ecosystem.

“A viable breeding population of native oysters can create future self-sustaining oyster reefs.”

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