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Paddleboarder Adelaide © Anita Nedosyko / TNC

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Glenelg Reef rebuild now underway

The Nature Conservancy is delighted to announce that construction of a new shellfish reef off the coast of Glenelg will be complete next week.

The reef, made up of native oysters, will boost fish stocks and improve water quality.

“Rebuilding this ecosystem will not only benefit the environment but also the local economy, by delivering new dive tourism and fishing opportunities,” said Anita Nedosyko, The Nature Conservancy’s Oceans Coordinator South Australia.

Shellfish reefs were once common in the sheltered nearshore areas of South Australia. But overfishing, dredging, water pollution and disease have almost wiped them out.

Glenelg Reef is the second shellfish reef to be rebuilt in South Australian waters, with the Windara Reef off the coast of Ardrossan, on the Yorke Peninsula, already attracting marine life.

“Oyster numbers are growing and we’re excited that Windara Reef has attracted abalone, cuttlefish, scallops, leather jackets, blue swimmer crabs and other marine species,” Ms Nedosyko said.

South Australian company Maritime Constructions is building the Glenelg Reef.

Their team is laying limestone boulders the size of footballs onto the seafloor using a barge and an excavator.

Scuba divers will then spread one million Australian flat oysters, which have been raised in the South Australian Research and Development Institute hatchery at West Beach.

The new reef will cover an area the size of the Adelaide Oval, about one kilometre offshore.

The Nature Conservancy is leading construction of the reef, in partnership with the South Australian Department for Environment and Water and the City of Holdfast Bay.

The recreated reef at Glenelg will attract marine life almost immediately and will take seven to 10 years to reach maturity.

Successful trials show oysters are attracted to the site.

“That is incredibly exciting as it means we have the right environmental conditions to ensure the restored shellfish reefs will grow and thrive,” Ms Nedosyko said.

The project is one of several initiatives being delivered as part of the South Australian Government’s ‘New Life for our Coastal Environment’ commitment.

Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs said the Marshall Liberal Government is investing $1.2 million to build the shellfish reef.

“This project will deliver new dive tourism and fishing opportunities for everyone and the construction will create up to 10 local jobs,” Minister Speirs said.

City of Holdfast Bay Mayor, Amanda Wilson, said a lot of work had gone into picking the right location for the reef.

“We’re delighted that the second shellfish reef to be built in South Australia will be in the waters off Glenelg,” Mayor Wilson said.

“It will become a fishing and diving hotspot that will be welcomed by local enthusiasts and attract more tourists to our area.”

The Glenelg Reef 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.

Learn more about shellfish reefs here.

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.