New shellfish reef for Corio Bay
The state government is restoring shellfish reefs in Port Phillip and Corio bays through a project that aims to improve bay health, juvenile fish habitat and water quality.
Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford announced (12 February 2017) works had begun on stage two of the project to restore lost shellfish reefs in the Bay off St Kilda and Geelong.
The government’s $147,000 investment will allow for locally sourced limestone to be placed on the seafloor at Hobsons Bay and at Wilson Spit near Geelong under seven metres of water by a barge and excavator.
Covering 300 square metres, around 300,000 juvenile oysters will be evenly spread over the limestone by divers.
Oysters are highly efficient at improving water quality and the cycling of nutrients through their waste products and the complex habitat created by shellfish reefs provides food and homes for crabs, fish and plankton that are important links in the marine food chain.
In addition to the Government’s funding, The Nature Conservancy contributed $50,000 towards the project and Albert Park Yachting & Angling Club funded $35,000 as well as considerable in-kind investments.
In another win for recreational anglers, Ms Pulford also announced that consultation has commenced on setting a permanent cap on the Port Phillip Bay scallop fishery.
Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford said: “A healthier and more productive Bay is good for recreational fishing and supports our Target One Million aim to get more people fishing, more often.”
“It was the Labor Government that made the critical decision to end commercial exploitation of the Bay. We’re preserving the Bay so that all Melburnians can enjoy and experience it for decades to come.”
Member for Albert Park Martin Foley said: “Restoring shellfish reefs in the bay will benefit the aquatic environment and recreational anglers who depend on a healthy marine ecosystem for great fisheries.”
The Nature Conservancy Australia Country Director Rich Gilmore said: “This partnership is a great example of how we work together with other stakeholders, in this case a fishing club and a state government agency, to successfully address conservation challenges with solutions that help both people and nature.”
Albert Park Yachting and Angling Club Vice President Pat Hutchison said: “Long serving club members noticed a decline in the bay’s shellfish reefs, and their catches from where they once occurred, and wanted to do something about it – it’s great to see this happening.”
Source: A state government media release