After years of research, the project team settled on a plan to install artificial shellfish reefs in a Pumicestone Passage trial area. The artificial reefs are designed to provide an attachment point for shellfish, and the embedded recycled shells act as a food-source for shellfish larvae as they mature. As shellfish populations expand, they support the growth of important fish species, enhance marine biodiversity and ultimately improve water quality in the Moreton Bay region.

Bureau Waardenburg’s Wouter Lenjkeek prepares the potato starch artificial reef he helped develop.

In December 2017, the first artificial shellfish reefs were installed within a one-hectare site offshore of Kakudu Beach at Bribie Island. The trial area is located within the Moreton Bay Marine Park, and the artificial reefs were installed in an area with a depth range of between 2.5 and 5.2 metres.

Three different structures were embedded underwater, including patch reefs of shell weighted with reef balls, steel cages full of recycled shell and an Australian-first biodegradable potato starch matrix that was developed in the Netherlands by Bureau Waardenburg. A combination of recycled and live shells were used within the structures.

In December 2018, a second array of artificial reefs were installed within the test area. The new reefs, made up of live and recycled shells collected by OzFish Unlimited volunteers at the Ningi Transfer Station, are designed to increase the process of reef adhesion and productivity.

The project is being monitored by University of the Sunshine Coast marine science team.

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