with mussel baskets besides the Peel-Harvey Estuary, Western Australia
Theo Kearing with mussel baskets besides the Peel-Harvey Estuary, Western Australia © Fiona Valesini/TNC

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Mandurah Mussel Gardens - yes, they’re a thing

Residents living on the Mandurah and Dawesville canals are invited to join a unique opportunity to help The Nature Conservancy re-establish beneficial mussel beds in the Peel-Harvey Estuary.

The project, headed by The Nature Conservancy and funded by the Alcoa Foundation, aims to restore mussel reefs over about the size of two tennis courts or 500 square metres at key points in the estuary.

Our local project coordinator, Theo Kearing, who'll be overseeing the Community Mussel Gardening Program, explains how – “We want about 50,000 mature Blue Mussels to stock the new mussel reefs we’ll be building in the Peel-Harvey Estuary this time next year. So we’ve come up with an easy way that local residents living on the canals with their own jetty can help us grow those mussels over the next 12 months.”

The Nature Conservancy will supply residents willing to grow their own mussel gardens with all the necessary equipment including specially designed mussel baskets filled with juvenile mussels. The baskets will then be suspended in the water under their private jetties for about a year. 

suspended under a jetty in the Peel-Harvey Estuary, Western Australia
Mussel Garden suspended under a jetty in the Peel-Harvey Estuary, Western Australia © Alex Hams/TNC

“All we ask is that our mussel gardeners help monitor and maintain the mussel gardens for a couple of hours a month”, added Theo.

The mussel beds will be developed by installing limestone and/or coir matting substrate on the estuary floor. This substrate will then be ‘seeded’ with the mature mussels from our mussel gardens to provide important well-established stock. We’ll also add 1.5 million juvenile mussels supplied by a local aquaculture operator – Harvest Road Oceans in Cockburn Sound. Over time the restored shellfish ecosystem will help improve water quality, biodiversity and fish/crab populations in the estuary.

“If you live on a canal estate between Mandurah and Dawesville and would like to become a volunteer mussel gardener, please let us know by emailing shellfish.gardens@tnc.org,” said Theo.  

To learn more about our Peel-Harvey Mussel Reef Restoration Project, locals are invited to a Community Forum to be held on Monday 3 August 2020, from 6pm – 7:30pm at the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council. Numbers are strictly limited to comply with COVID-19 restrictions so please RSVP by emailing alex.hams@tnc.org or calling 0421 456 708.

This project is funded by the Alcoa Foundation and is in partnership with the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council. Alcoa Corporate Affairs Director Jodie Read said the project formed part of the company’s multi-million dollar commitment to help improve important local waterways.

“We appreciate that Peel waterways play a vital role in the environmental, economic, social and cultural wellbeing of the region,” Ms Read said. “Through our larger Three Rivers, One Estuary Initiative, we’re proud to be working alongside environmental groups and the local community to help improve the Serpentine, Murray and Harvey rivers and the Peel-Harvey Estuary that they feed.”

The Peel-Harvey Mussel Reef Restoration Project is part of The Nature Conservancy’s National Reef Building Program to restore and protect 60 shellfish reefs across southern Australia, bringing them back from the brink of extinction for the benefit of people and nature.

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.