Australia’s largest shellfish reef restoration - The Community Leader and Real Estate New and Views

Robbie Porter, Renee Ferenc (both OzFish) and Craig Wilson (PBPL) at the OzFish Shellfish Recycling Centre at Port of Brisbane. Photo: Supplied.

Inspired by the Billion Oyster Project in New York Harbor, Australia’s largest community-driven shellfish reef restoration project has launched in Moreton Bay led by fishing conservation charity, OzFish.

Over the next six years, OzFish and its team of volunteers – many of them recreational anglers – will work to re-establish 19.4 hectares of lost shellfish reef in the Bay, in an area adjacent to the Port of Brisbane.

Access to this part of the Bay for the habitat restoration was provided by the Port of Brisbane, who has also provided port land to support OzFish’s shell recycling centre for over three years.

It’s a milestone that’s been years in the making and one that Craig Copeland, CEO of OzFish Unlimited, describes as a gamechanger for shellfish reef restoration nationally.

“We’ve lost more shellfish reefs across Australia than coral reefs and we not only need people to know about it – we need the community to help in its restoration,” Mr Copeland said.

“OzFish and our selfless volunteer recreational anglers have been working for more than four years, collecting the shells, and designing the ROBS and shell washing machinery.”

While the next stage has commenced, the work is far from over.

From their base at the Port, OzFish will monitor and progressively place over 50,000 robust oyster baskets (ROBS) into approved areas of the Bay which will ultimately create the reef.

The ROBs are handmade by recreational fishers and filled with recycled and sterilised oyster shells, which provide the base structures for baby oysters to grow on.

With funding from the Australian and Queensland Governments, OzFish has also worked with many partners to get the project off the ground, including the Port of Brisbane and Healthy Land & Water.

Restoring these reefs not only creates vital shellfish habitat, but also improves water quality, rejuvenates aquatic life and improves fish productivity. Ultimately, that means a healthier Moreton Bay and better recreational fishing for the community.

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