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Growing native oysters for our reef restoration work can be a tricky business. In order to grow, juvenile oysters require a hard surface (preferably another oyster shell or something similar like a mussel or scallop) to settle on. Historic dredge fishing removed much of the existing oyster shell from Port Phillip Bay and the lack of hard shell substrate is one of the key factors preventing oyster reefs from re-establishing naturally in the Bay.
To promote this natural cycle, we set up a recycling project for used oyster, mussel, abalone and scallop shells from restaurants, venues and seafood wholesalers around Geelong. Once collected the shells are cured to kill off any diseases, combined with limestone rubble and then placed on the seafloor as a ‘settlement substrate’ for juvenile oysters to cement onto. This technique has been used successfully by The Nature Conservancy in the United States and around the world for more than 15 years.
The shell recycling is providing a sustainable solution to the loss of shells in the life cycle while decreasing landfill waste. Our partners in the project include Brambles, GDP Industries and Little Creatures Geelong.
Watch this short video from ABC online about our shell recycling project to restore the forgotten shellfish reefs of Port Phillip Bay:
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