Albany's new reefs proving their value
The Nature Conservancy’s newly constructed oyster reefs near Albany, Western Australia have exceeded expectations. Construction of two news reefs, covering a total of 1,650 square metres of Oyster Harbour’s seafloor, was completed in November last year. Recent monitoring data has revealed the results are better than hoped for at this stage.
“Recent diving surveys indicate that survival of the oysters we placed on the new reefs is above our benchmark,” said Alex Hams who manages the project. “In fact natural recruitment is exceeding mortality at one of the sites.”
“Marine biodiversity has also increased in the area. For example, the reefs have enhanced the abundance of fish, particularly key recreational and commercial species such as juvenile Pink Snapper.”
More than a million juvenile Australian Flat Oysters, grown at the Albany Shellfish Hatchery, we deployed over the new reefs during construction. An additional 2,000 mature oysters, grown at the Harvest Road aquaculture lease, were also deployed onto the reefs to kickstart the natural recruitment life cycle.
On top of the ecological improvements, there have also been a number of socio-economic benefits as a result of the project, including the creation of four full time jobs, the engagement of volunteers who have contributed over 700 hours of support and the delivery of 20 public presentations to over 600 people in the local area.
“Given the success of the project, The Nature Conservancy is actively seeking further funding to continue and expand our shellfish reef restoration work in the Great Southern to allow the decimated native oyster reef ecosystem to bounce back at a seascape scale,” concluded Alex.
Our Oyster Harbour project is 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 Oyster Harbour project is part of The Nature Conservancy’s National Reef Building Project that aims to rebuild 60 shellfish reefs alongside communities who need them most around southern Australia. If achieved, it will make Australia the first country in the world to recover a critically endangered marine ecosystem. Projects in Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay and South Australia’s Gulf St Vincent are in advanced stages of reconstruction with others getting underway in Mandurah, Perth, Adelaide and Noosa.
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 70 countries 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.