Construction starts on $1m oyster reef

Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
Member for Albany Peter Watson and marine project co-ordinator Alex Hams.
Camera IconMember for Albany Peter Watson and marine project co-ordinator Alex Hams. Credit: Laurie Benson

A new $1 million oyster reef in Oyster Harbour is officially under constriction after more than a year of community consultation.

The first stage of the reef began this week, and will involve over 1000 tonnes of limestone being placed at sites in the harbour to construct an 800sqm reef.

Construction will take up to three weeks before over a million young Australian flat oysters are seeded, and will remain on the reef to mature.

Marine project co-ordinator at the Nature Conservancy Alex Hams said the project would restore the habitat for the once-common shellfish.

“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,” he said. “As an Albany local myself, I can’t wait to see the difference this will make.”

The species was nearly wiped out in the harbour due to over harvesting in the 1800s, and a recent string of diseases and a lack of water quality.

The shortage extends across the entire country, with 99 per cent of the Australian flat oyster reefs now non-existent.

The young oysters are being grown and held at the State-owned Albany Shellfish Hatchery.

Albany MLA Peter Watson said the greater Albany community supported the innovative project and what it could bring to the region.

“When the limestone reef base is settled, the young oysters will be seeded and continue to grow on the reef, attracting other aquatic species to create a fully functioning shellfish reef,” he said.

“Our local and visiting fishers continue to enjoy the diversity of fish species living within the harbour and the new reefs will further enhance this experience.”

The Nature Conservancy hopes to bring 60 reefs to Australia within six years.

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