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Glenelg shellfish reef rebuild begins

Thursday 12 November 2020

The Nature Conservancy is delighted to announce that construction of a new shellfish reef off the coast of Glenelg has begun.

The reef, made up of native oysters, will boost fish stocks and improve water quality.

“Rebuilding this ecosystem will not only benefit the environment but also the local economy, by delivering new dive tourism and fishing opportunities for everyone,” said Anita Nedosyko, The Nature Conservancy’s Oceans Coordinator SA.

Shellfish reefs were once common in the sheltered nearshore areas of South Australia. But overfishing, dredging, water pollution and disease have almost wiped them out.

Glenelg Reef will be the second shellfish reef to be rebuilt in South Australian waters, with the Windara Reef off the coast of Ardrossan, on the Yorke Peninsula, attracting marine life.

“Oyster numbers are growing and we’re excited that Windara Reef has attracted abalone, cuttlefish, scallops, leather jackets, blue swimmer crabs and other marine species,” Ms Nedosyko said.

The South Australian company Maritime Constructions started building Glenelg Reef on 3 November.

Over three days, their team lay limestone boulders the size of footballs onto the seafloor using a barge and an excavator.

Scuba divers will then spread one million Australian flat oysters, which have been raised in the South Australian Research and Development Institute hatchery at West Beach.

The new reef will cover an area the size of the Adelaide Oval, about one kilometre offshore.

The Nature Conservancy is leading construction of the reef, in partnership with the South Australian Department for Environment and Water and the City of Holdfast Bay.

The recreated reef at Glenelg will attract marine life almost immediately and will take seven to 10 years to reach maturity.

Successful trials show oysters are attracted to the site.

“That is incredibly exciting as it means that we have the right environmental conditions to ensure that the restored shellfish reefs will grow and thrive,” Ms Nedosyko said.

The project is one of several initiatives being delivered as part of the South Australian Government’s ‘New Life for our Coastal Environment’ commitment. The South Australian Government has committed $1.2 million to rebuild this metropolitan shellfish reef.

City of Holdfast Bay Mayor, Amanda Wilson, said a lot of work had gone into picking the right location for the reef.

“We’re delighted that the second shellfish reef to be built in South Australia will be in the waters off Glenelg,” Mayor Wilson said.

“It will become a fishing and diving hotspot that will be welcomed by local enthusiasts and attract more tourists to our area.”

The Glenelg Reef project is part of The Nature Conservancy’s National Reef Building Project that aims to rebuild 60 shellfish reefs alongside communities who need them most around southern Australia. If achieved, it will make Australia the first country in the world to recover a critically endangered marine ecosystem.

About The Nature Conservancy

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 on innovative solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. Our priorities are to tackle climate change and protect land and water.