Oyster Reef Restoration Pilot Builds One Hectare of Habitat

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has taken the first step in an ambitious restoration project, with the completion of the Port Stephens oyster reef.

Oyster reefs once covered large areas of the State’s estuaries, providing habitat and food for fish, invertebrates and other marine life, but many have been lost over time.

DPI Senior Fisheries Manager, Kylie Russell, said the Port Stephens project placed 3,300 tonnes of rock and 180 cubic metres of recycled oyster shell on two restoration sites, creating more than 10,000 square metres of reef base for oyster colonisation.

“Researchers have already documented fish and invertebrates utilising the new reefs and settlement of oysters began within days of the rocks being placed,” Ms Russell said.

“We will continue to monitor the development of the reefs as habitats and breeding grounds for key species, and to guide future oyster reef restoration work across the State.

“We know that in addition to providing habitat and food, oyster reefs deliver a wide range of other benefits for marine life and water quality.

“The reefs provide water filtration and shoreline protection, and the structural cover they offer for recreational and commercially important fish species gives a real boost to sustainable fishing in the area.”

The restoration of oyster reefs is a priority on-ground action for the NSW Marine Estate Management Strategy (MEMS).

The MEMS oyster reef project has delivered the first large-scale trial of oyster reef restoration in NSW, and continues to increase knowledge of the best ways to restore natural oyster reefs and identify the most suitable places for reef restoration projects in NSW.

NSW DPI worked closely with other state agencies to ensure the new oyster reefs were constructed in line with all necessary approvals, and rigorous project monitoring is being undertaken.

Recreational fishers can help with the oyster reef restoration program by filling out an online survey which aims to capture local knowledge about oyster reef sites around the state.

Vision of the project, and audio quotes from DPI Senior Fisheries Manager, Kylie Russell are available from https://spaces.hightail.com/space/WYH12YEas3

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