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The Nature Conservancy is restoring shellfish reefs in Port Phillip Bay through a project that aims to improve bay health, juvenile fish habitat and water quality.
Announcing stage two of the project to restore lost shellfish reefs in the Bay off St Kilda and Geelong, the Victorian Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford said “a healthier and more productive Bay is good for recreational fishing and supports our Target One Million aim to get more people fishing, more often. It was the Labor Government that made the critical decision to end commercial netting of the Bay. We’re preserving the Bay so that all Melburnians can enjoy and experience it for decades to come.”
The Victorian Government’s $147,000 investment will allow locally sourced limestone to be placed on the seafloor at Hobsons Bay and at Wilson Spit near Geelong under seven metres of water by a barge and excavator. Covering 300 square metres, around 300,000 juvenile oysters will be evenly spread over the limestone by divers.
Oysters are highly efficient at improving water quality and the cycling of nutrients through their waste products and the complex habitat created by shellfish reefs provides food and homes for crabs, fish and plankton that are important links in the marine food chain.
“This partnership is a great example of how we work together with other stakeholders, in this case a fishing club and a state government agency, to successfully address conservation challenges with solutions that help both people and nature,” said Rich Gilmore, Country Director for The Nature Conservancy Australia that contributed an additional $50,000 towards the project, along with significant in-kind resources.
“Long serving club members noticed a decline in the bay’s shellfish reefs, and their catches from where they once occurred, and wanted to do something about it – it’s great to see this happening,” added Pat Hutchison, Vice President of Albert Park Yachting and Angling Club which contributed $35,000 towards the project.