FROM CHRIS BLACK, OZFISH
Getting involved in restoring vitally important shellfish reefs to Moreton Bay will be easier than ever in 2023.
OzFish, Australia’s only recreational fishing charity, is helping more local people than ever before support its ‘Shellfish Revolution’ initiative. The charity will be holding regular workshops each month, giving people the opportunity to play a key role in returning much-needed shellfish habitat to Moreton Bay.
The area once had a thriving shellfish reef ecosystem that was part of a healthy and productive marine environment. Shellfish reefs play an important role in water quality and supporting native fish numbers.
Every adult oyster can filter more than 100 litres of seawater every day, and a hectare of shellfish reef can produce 2.5 tonnes of harvestable fish every year.
Unfortunately, many reefs were rendered functionally extinct by decades of dredging to supply lime for building materials, leaving the seabed of Moreton Bay a desert in many previously vibrant areas. OzFish is working to address that and is mobilising recreational fishers and the local community to get involved.
The OzFish Central Moreton Bay Chapter has been active in the area for the last four years and has the goal of restoring 100 hectares of shellfish reef in Moreton Bay during the next ten years. They developed the innovative approach of placing Robust Oyster Baskets (ROBs) full of recycled shells back into the bay at strategic locations.
Robbie Porter, OzFish South-East Queensland Project Officer, is looking forward to welcoming more local people along to the various workshops.
“I am so proud of our local volunteers and what they have achieved already. Together, we have placed over 3,000 ROBs in Moreton Bay to create a new ecosystem and help clean up the bay,” said Mr Porter.
“It is a truly great group of people that really enjoy working together, and they can take a lot of pride in the progress so far. We are pleased that more and more local people are keen to support the work, and we look forward to welcoming new members in 2023.”
Every week volunteers visit oyster wholesalers, restaurants, and seafood outlets across Brisbane to collect empty oyster shells that would otherwise end up in landfill. At the OzFish shell recycling plant at the Port of Brisbane, the shells are sterilised by the sun for at least four months to ensure no pathogens are released into the bay.
The shells are then given a final wash before being packaged in individual ROBs, ready to be deployed in strategic locations set for restoration. The ROBs are manufactured on-site and are easy to make, with OzFish volunteers of all ages and backgrounds playing a part.
They are made of mild steel, which will dissolve in salt water in around two years. In that time, the recycled shells become host to baby oysters, known as spat, and the reef becomes a living, growing structure providing a home for thousands of marine organisms and sea life.
If you would like to get involved in supporting Moreton Bay’s shellfish reef restoration, the OzFish Central Moreton Bay Chapter holds working bees on the second Wednesday and third Saturday of every month.
You can find more information about the workshops on the OzFish events page and read more about what OzFish is helping to achieve on its website www.ozfish.org.au.