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Restoring oyster reefs

Updated: Dec 15, 2022

Those of you who came to the September BIEPA meeting will have heard Robbie Porter from talking about his project to restore shellfish reefs in Moreton Bay. Inspired by Robbie's example of positive action, I invited a bunch of colleagues from work to come down to Ozfish Oyster World at Port of Brisbane, where we had a surprisingly enjoyable and rewarding morning of hard labour on the ROB production line.

These Robust Oyster Baskets (ROBs) are filled with oyster shells, a waste product from the food industry, so that they attract baby oysters (spats) to form new colonies. The steel cages eventually dissolve leaving a new shellfish reef thronging with all kinds of marine life.

Working on the Production Line

While some of us made new baskets using some impressive power-tools, others fed empty oyster shells through Wally the Washer into the empty baskets, and clipped on the lids before stacking them on pallets. The pallets are lined up ready to be transported to a barge, from where they will be taken out to the reef being formed around Fisherman Island.

Educational Tea Break

During our well-deserved tea break, Robbie explained how vital shellfish reefs and oysters in particular are for the health of coastal ecosystems around Australia. Oysters filter a surprising amount of sea water each day; the original extensive oyster reefs around Moreton Bay would have filtered the entire bay about once a week. This kept the water clear for sunlight to reach the seagrass, an essential food for dugongs and turtles. The reefs also provided homes and food for many species of fish and crustaceans.