Federal Investment in Shellfish Reefs

The new $20-million Reef Builder project is an exciting partnership between the Federal Government and The Nature Conservancy Australia (TNC) set to restore our native marine ecosystems, including our living shellfish reefs. 

The Reef Builder project will see shellfish reefs restored in at least 11 sites across the country, including continuing works in Port Phillip Bay and commencing restoration in the Gippsland Lakes.

In Port Phillip Bay, The Nature Conservancy have already restored 2.5 hectares of shellfish reefs since 2015. This is set to double by the end of 2020. For the current build, over 165 tonnes of shell has been used to construct reefs in Geelong at 9ft Bank and Wilson Spit. Reefs has recently been built at Margaret’s Reef in Hobson’s Bay near St. Kilda and soon Dromana using limestone rubble. Later this year, these new reefs will be seeded with over 3-million Australian flat oysters reared at Queenscliff’s Victorian Shellfish Hatchery and 6-tonnes of blue mussels grown out by Advanced Mussel Supplies.

The Gippsland Lakes is set to receive $1.8-million of funding to establish five hectares of shellfish reefs between Metung and Lakes Entrance to improve the health of the ecosystem, support local jobs and boost tourism. Restoration in Gippsland will take a staged approach, involving working with the local community, including recreational fishers and in collaboration with the East Gippsland CMA. Year 1 will involve selecting a suitable site and a pilot project with Year 2 seeing restoration efforts scaled up.

In the Gippsland Lakes, we expect the quality of fishing to improve now that the commercial fising buy-back is completed and we work towards recovering the fishery to it’s former glory. The restoration of shellfish reefs will pave the way for a vibrant, healthy fishery as living shellfish reefs play a vital part in improving our marine ecosystem.

VRFish Foundation Member, Albert Park Yachting and Angling Club have worked with the Nature Conservancy since the inception of the Port Phillip Bay Shellfish Reef Restoration project and continue to raise funds and awareness about the project.

VRFish are proud of our partnership with The Nature Conservancy and we continue to advocate for further investment into the restoration of our shellfish reefs as we know that the investing in our living shellfish reefs will provide immense benefit to our fishers through improving fish habitat, water quality and marine diversity. Habitat is a key priority for Victorian recreational fishers as it is vital for a healthy fishery. Put simply, habitat makes fishing happen.

Funding will be allocated to 5ha of new reefs in Port Phillip Bay at the existing sites
Photos supplied by The Nature Conservancy

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