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VRFish photo: shellffish reef

Shellfish reef

Shellfish reef

VRFish photo: shellffish reef

Gippsland Lakes shellfish reef project

The Gippsland Lakes is on the list for a new Australian Government partnership to rebuild at least 11 shellfish reefs around the country.

$1.8 million will be spent in Gippsland to establish five hectares of shellfish reefs between Metung and Lakes Entrance.

“Shellfish reefs once thrived in Australia’s bays and estuaries, but from the 1850s to the 1960s they were decimated by overharvesting, dredging and water pollution,” said Dr Chris Gillies, Oceans Program Director at The Nature Conservancy.

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“Now less than 10 per cent of these shellfish reefs remain, making them one of Australia’s most endangered marine ecosystems.

"To rebuild the reefs we lay down thousands of tonnes of locally-sourced limestone rubble and recycled shells to create a reef base.

"Then we release millions of baby oysters bred by oyster farmers and shellfish hatcheries,” Dr Gillies said.

Gippsland MP Darren Chester said the new habitat created for native flat oysters and native blue mussels would improve fishing and crabbing in areas popular with locals and visitors.

“This is a significant investment in the health of the Lakes and an investment in local jobs, businesses and the visitor economy," Mr Chester said.

“The Gippsland Lakes project, which is due to be finished in 2022, is expected to support 12 to 14 local jobs, including people who’ll be creating the reefs and others working in local fishing, tackle and boat hire businesses.”

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