After more than a year of careful planning and community consultation, the construction of new oyster reefs in Oyster Harbour, near Albany on WA’s southern coast gets underway next week.
“I’m so excited to get construction started,” said Alex Hams, Marine Project Coordinator at The Nature Conservancy. “Rebuilding these locally extinct reefs will bring back so many benefits to the harbour and the Albany community including improved water quality, greater marine biodiversity and boosted fish populations. As an Albany local myself, I can’t wait to see the difference this will make.”
Commenced this week, the first stage of reef construction involves deploying over 1,000 tonnes of limestone from the City of Albany Quarry onto selected sites within Oyster Harbour. In total the reefs will cover an area of more than 800 square metres. The reef sites were carefully selected after detailed consultation with local stakeholders and data analysis including water quality, seagrass and infrastructure maps. During the two to three week construction stage, a large barge will transport the limestone from Emu Point Boat Harbour to the reef building sites where it will be deployed into the water by an onboard excavator.
Once completed, the new reefs will be seeded with over a million young Australian Flat Oysters, currently being reared at the Albany Shellfish Hatchery. This species was once common in the harbour before being all but wiped out by over harvesting in the 1800s and more recently impacted by disease and poor water quality.
The aim is to eventually create self-sustaining, natural shellfish reefs in Oyster Harbour for the benefit of people and nature.
The Oyster Harbour project is part of The Nature Conservancy’s National Reef Building Project that aims to rebuild 60 reefs in six years across Australia. If achieved, it will make Australia the world’s first nation to recover a critically endangered marine ecosystem. Projects in Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay and South Australia’s Gulf St Vincent are already in advanced stages of reconstruction.
Oyster reef restoration works in Oyster Harbour are made possible by Royalty for Regions and the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund, and thanks to the cooperation of a range of key stakeholders and local project partners.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organisation dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we focus on getting things done efficiently and with the greatest positive impact for conservation. We’re a trusted organisation working in more than 70 countries and territories around the world on innovative solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. To learn more about The Nature Conservancy in Australia, follow us on Facebook.