Welcome to Port Philip Bay, Melbourne. Port Philip Bay is home to the largest shipping port in Australia. It has also become the focus of a massive joint operation between The Nature Conservancy of Australia, The Albert Park Yachting and Angling Club and the Department of Environment and Primary Industries. The goal of this partnership is to reestablish the ‘lost’ shellfish reefs that once thrived in Port Philip Bay.
Why are these shellfish reefs so important that they warrant this type of effort to restore them? It’s a great question, and it’s one I discussed at length with the scientist we were working with. For several reasons, including overfishing, the shellfish population, and therefore the reefs, dropped drastically in Port Philip Bay and the surrounding areas. The loss of these reefs has put incredible strain on the environment. The life that was once supported by these reefs is gone, leaving many animals on the brink of extinction. Faced with a massive loss of marine and wildlife as well as the impact it would have the local economy, it was decided that immediate action needed to be taken to restore these lost reefs and return the bay to the thriving ecosystem it once was.
We were asked by The Nature Conservancy to help document the work being done as well as potential sites for the reef restoration.
The process of restoring shellfish reefs is quite amazing. It is a two part process that takes us from government run oyster farm in Queenscliff to the sand bottom of Port Philip Bay. We started this two day project in Queenscliff where the Department of Environment and Primary Industries has set up an oyster hatchery. Here, they grow thousands of oysters that will be introduced back into Port Philip Bay.
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