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The creation of Shellfish Reef

Shellfish reef establishment supports future generations of Port Phillip Bay marine life

The establishment of a shellfish reef in and around the Mornington Peninsula, specifically between Mornington and Mount Eliza, has created an ecosystem that ensures the ongoing health and resilience of fish communities, as well as water quality.

The Port Phillip Community Shellfish Reef project has been managed by Melbourne Water, with funding through the Australian Government’s Fisheries Habitat Restoration Project, to create a shellfish reef using recycled shell substrate.

With shellfish reef habitat one of the world’s most threatened marine habitats, shellfish reefs play a critical role when it comes to fish colonisation and improving fish populations.

“Shellfish reefs were once widespread across Port Phillip Bay, but since settlement we’ve probably lost in excess of 95 percent of them making the Port Phillip Community Shellfish Reef project a critical one,” Andrew Morrison, Melbourne Water Senior Asset Planner - Land and Catchments said.

“Some really simple measures that we’ve been taking as part of this project is to actually recycle the shellfish discarded through the restaurant industry. In the past that would have gone to landfill, we’re basically returning this to Port Phillip Bay to help form the foundation of shellfish reef colonisation and helping increase and improve the population of native fish.”

The establishment of a shellfish reef was supported in partnership with OzFish as well as a local recreational fishers - who were involved in educational and training events, so they understood the importance of the project, and contributed to their formation.

“Having recreational fishers participate in the restoration of these important ecosystems, we’re really enhancing that long term stewardship for these areas and hopefully they’ll continue to help support a sustainable recreational fishing industry,” Morrison added.

Melbourne Water, as a catchment management authority (CMA), is responsible for delivering land, water and biodiversity programs that enhance and protect the environment and support thriving communities in the Port Phillip and Westernport catchments. The Port Phillip Community Shellfish Reef project falls under this CMA plan.

This project was supported with funding from the Australian Government in partnership with OzFish and the local community.

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