Since the collaborative installation of a shellfish reef array to enhance fish stocks in southern Pumicestone Passage in December 2017, scientists at the University of the Sunshine Coast have found a significant and sustained change in the broader assemblage structure of fish that congregate at the reef site. Such has been the increase in the abundance and diversity of fish assemblages at the reef sites, that we now see few differences in the relative value of the various reef types within the one-hectare reef footprint.
Invertebrate surveys undertaken by OzFish found evidence of significant spat recruitment and survival over two summer seasons, suggesting that oyster reef restoration is feasible in Pumicestone Passage, and potentially also wider Moreton Bay. Shells sampled from all reef types displayed prolific colonisation by invertebrate a diversity of epibionts which helped cement the loose shells together into monolithic reef formation.
This stage of the project has been supported by many project partners, and funded by the National Landcare Program, Moreton Bay Regional Council, BCF through OzFish and the Pumicestone Passage Fish Restocking Association.
In 2015, Healthy Land and Water launched a collaborative project alongside Traditional Owners, fishing groups, oyster farmers, local government, utilities, research institutions and community groups to restore the Pumicestone Passage’s shellfish reef habitats to their former glory.
In December 2017, the first installation of artificial shellfish reefs were installed within a one-hectare site offshore of Kakudu Beach at Bribie Island. A second installation was conducted in December 2018.
If successful, the aim is for the restoration project to be expanded throughout Moreton Bay Marine Park so the once-plentiful shellfish populations can be fully restored.