Restoring Shellfish Reefs in the Bay

Photo by Tony Jupp

Fresh local mussels are one of the great joys of living in this part of the world and a partnership between the Geelong Port and The Nature Conservancy is restoring the lost shellfish reefs of Corio and Port Phillip Bays using recycled shells and 11 tonnes of live locally-grown mussels.

The Nature Conservancy is building 500 square-metres of mussel reefs in Corio Bay, with GeelongPort loading the 55 tonnes of limestone rubble and 13.75 tonnes of recycled shells on to the seafloor.

The shells have been collected as part of the award-winning and brilliantly named Shuck Don’t Chuck shell recycling program. Restaurants including Little Creatures in Geelong and the Little Mussel Café in Portarlington are leading the way by collecting and donating the used shells.

Over the next few weeks, that base, along with Margaret’s Reef off St Kilda that was built in November last year, will be seeded with 11 tonnes of live mussels grown by Advance Mussel Supply in Portarlington.

“Our project to restore the lost shellfish reefs of Port Phillip Bay has been up and running for more than three years now,” said Simon Branigan, Marine Restoration Coordinator at The Nature Conservancy.

“The momentum behind restoring the shellfish reefs that once dominated up to half of Port Phillip Bay’s seafloor continues to build and it’s great to be leading that push,” he said.

Four oyster reefs at Wilson Spit in Corio Bay and Margaret’s Reef in Hobsons Bay have already been restored totalling 1,150 square metres over a total footprint of one hectare. Two million hatchery reared oysters have been used to seed these new reefs, which are encouraging back other species like pink snapper, goatfish, flathead, red swimmer crab, banded and shovelnose stingarees, and seahorses.

GeelongPort has provided The Nature Conservancy with facilities to support their operations to load limestone and recycled shells onto their vessel to transport to Wilson Spit to form a reef base.

“It has been a wonderful opportunity for GeelongPort to be involved in the supply chain process. GeelongPort facilities provide the ability to support the reef restoration project and we will continue to support as the project develops”, Adam Gordon, GM of Operations GeelongPort said.

Feature Image Courtesy: Tract Consulting
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