4 July, 2023

Australia’s biggest community-driven shellfish restoration project goes into overdrive in Moreton Bay

More than 2,000 Robust Oyster Baskets destined to grow into new oyster reefs have been strategically dropped into Moreton Bay as part of the biggest community-driven shellfish reef restoration project in Australia.

Australia’s biggest community-driven shellfish restoration project goes into overdrive in Moreton Bay - feature photo

Last Friday, local OzFish volunteers deployed 2,265 Robust Oyster Baskets, lovingly called ROBs, onto the restoration site, taking the total number to an incredible 6,465 since the project launched nearly two years ago. 

The ROBs are made from degradable steel mesh filled with recycled oyster shell that volunteers help clean at the shell recycling centre at the Port of Brisbane. The shells are collected from local restaurants, bars and wholesalers and recycled by volunteers.

All up there were more than 2.7 million shells in the baskets dropped into the water last Friday, bringing the total of shells deployed to just under 7.8 million for the project.

The baskets take about two years to degrade, which gives the oysters and other shellfish time to clump together, leaving only a solid structure of oyster shells and living shellfish.

They were loaded onto a barge to be placed into a 19.6-hectare site which was graciously donated to OzFish for restoration by the Port of Brisbane.

Marine creatures in Moreton Bay are facing a housing crisis of their own after a staggering 96% of shellfish reef habitat has been destroyed in the past 150 years, leaving them functionally extinct.

OzFish's Central Moreton Chapter refuses to stand by idly. The results from a study conducted by Griffith University on the previously deployed ROBs are nothing short of astonishing. Each ROB creates 626 new homes for shellfish, as well as providing shelter for a remarkable 1,120 other animals including crabs, worms, prawns and other creatures.

This incredible achievement amounts to more than 11 million new animals now thriving on the site, showcasing a massive increase in biodiversity.

Furthermore, OzFish has already successfully restored 10 hectares of shellfish reefs. As a result, volunteers have contributed to the generation of 2,500 tonnes of additional harvestable fish for Moreton Bay, year after year, forever.

“Together, we are making a significant impact on the health and sustainability of our oceans,” said Robbie Porter, OzFish Senior Special Projects Officer - Shellfish Revolution. 

“Each restored hectare produces an additional 2.5 tonnes of harvestable fish every year for Moreton Bay.

“I believe this is the best shellfish restoration project in Australia without question. Queensland should be very proud of what we’re achieving.

“We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the exceptional OzFish Central Moreton Chapter volunteers for their tireless dedication in supporting this work. Without their time and ingenuity, this project wouldn’t be possible.”

The Moreton Bay shellfish restoration project has been made possible by OzFish Unlimited, Australia’s only recreational fishing charity, the Port of Brisbane, Queensland Fisheries, Healthy Land and Water through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, BCF – Boating, Camping, Fishing and a wealth of community partners and corporate supporters. 

OzFish also thank Malec Transport and MGN Civil for their help in providing the barge and a front-end loader for the recent deployment.


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