“Fish hotels” of old shells to regenerate oyster reefs and restore Sydney harbor

The creatures that live in Sydney Harbour in New South Wales, Australia are set to have their own “fish hotel” in a trial to regenerate oyster reefs.

By packing old oyster shells into biodegradable coconut fibre bags, OceanWatch Australia, a not-for-profit environmental company, have developed a method to line shorelines using natural materials.

The bags will help reduce erosion and siltation along the shore, while also restoring the shellfish population and providing a new habitat for other marine life.

Oyster larvae love nothing better than other oysters,Andy Myers, aquaculture program manager, said.

Currently, most shoreline protection approaches have been driven by hard engineering in the form of lifeless seawalls or rock armouring. OceanWatch reported that over 50 per cent of the Sydney Harbour foreshore “has been artificially constructed resulting in significant loss of our natural habitats“.

OceanWatch Australia’s key activities involve:

  • enhancing fish habitats and improving water quality in estuaries and coastal environments;
  • working with industry and local communities to minimise environmental impacts;
  • introducing industry and communities to sustainable technologies and behaviours.

Since its establishment in 1989, OceanWatch Australia has managed and administered a broad range of successful projects to improve environmental practices, protect threatened marine species, reduce by-catch, introduce sustainable technologies, change behaviours and restore important marine habitats.

To achieve these positive outcomes, OceanWatch Australia works in partnership with the Australian seafood industry, federal and state governments, natural resource managers, private enterprise and local communities.

In 2013, delivering on an election promise of further developing Australia’s sustainable fishing sector, Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce recognised OceanWatch as the NRM organisation with responsibility for enhancing fish habitats and the marine environment.

See full ABC-Australia article by Amanda Hoh.

See OceanWatch Australia website.

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