Volunteers deploy one million oyster shells - The Community Leader and Real Estate New and Views

Photo: Supplied.


Queensland recreational fishers have delivered the biggest ever single day of habitat restoration in Moreton Bay, deploying more than one million recycled oyster shells to help restore shellfish reefs.

More than 200 members and supporters of OzFish Unlimited, Australia’s only recreational fishing charity, dedicated over 2,900 hours to collecting and cleaning used oyster shells and constructing 765 mini reefs known as Robust Oyster Baskets using in excess of 16.5 tonnes of shells.

This latest deployment has the potential to be transformational for Moreton Bay, where shellfish reefs were once plentiful and contributed to vibrant fisheries and clear water. Two hundred years of dredging, overharvesting and poor water quality mean they are now considered functionally extinct.

The one million recycled shells, collected from restaurants and businesses across Brisbane by volunteers, have the potential to become home to more than 1.5 million living oysters. In addition, the habitat they create will be able to support tonnes of fish and nearly 750,000 invertebrates, including crabs, shrimp, worms, and snails.

Robbie Porter, OzFish Special Projects Officer for Shellfish Restoration, believes the community spirit shown by recreational fishers can help revitalise what has been lost in Moreton Bay.

“This was our biggest day yet returning shellfish to Moreton Bay, and it was only possible because of the incredible effort of our members and volunteers. They did a power of work, including using their own vehicles to collect the shells, dedicating their time to cleaning the shells, designing the mini reefs and spending more hours on the water to return them to the bay,” Mr Porter said.

“I’d like to thank everybody, from our members through to the many project partners and local businesses in South East Queensland who have helped. We want to keep it up as there is so much more to be restored.”

The project is the largest community-driven shellfish restoration program in Australia, and it is leading the way for anglers in other states inspired by their work who are seeking to replicate its success.

“We’re beginning to make a dent, and it’s just the beginning,” said Mr Porter. “What’s really exciting is the sea life that begins to establish onto the reef; we can see they are doing exactly what we had hoped.”

Shellfish reef restoration has never been undertaken on this scale and speed in Moreton Bay before.

OzFish’s restoration efforts in Moreton Bay are part of its Shellfish Revolution, supported by the charity’s major partner BCF – Boating, Camping, Fishing. The project is also supported by Healthy Land & Water through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare and Fish Habitat Restoration programs, Port of Brisbane, the Turner Family Foundation and Tackle Tactics.

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