Website raises profile for estuary restoration

A COMMUNITY group in South East Queensland has developed a new website to raise awareness of the need to restore subtidal shellfish reefs to improve estuary health along Australia’s east coast.

The website was developed to inform the wider community about the missing shellfish reefs that once occurred in abundance in subtidal areas of the Pumicestone Passage. Group spokesman Dr Ben Diggles, a marine scientist and shellfish health expert, said the website contains information on why the reefs are missing and outlines the benefits to the environment, fisheries, coastal lifestyles and the economy that could be realised if these reefs are restored.

“Many people come to live near Moreton Bay to enjoy the fishing and coastal lifestyle, but few are aware that the aquatic environment supporting that lifestyle is under threat from runoff and other pressures from ever expanding urban development,” Dr Diggles said.

“Shellfish are ‘the lungs’ of healthy estuaries, providing ‘ecosystem engineering’ services including filtering to clean the water, nutrient uptake, and food and shelter for fish and crabs. Once people understand the role of shellfish as natural filters in these systems, and realise that these reefs are missing, we’re hoping they’ll understand the need to restore them in order to regain the vital ecological functions they provide.

“Local fishing groups are very interested in the concept because research overseas shows that subtidal shellfish reefs can generate over 1000 per cent more fish compared to control areas, as well as removing up to 283 per cent more nitrogen than mud banks, resulting in cleaner water, more fish, less turbidity and seagrass recovery,” Dr Diggles said.

“In Moreton Bay, after over 150 years of degradation, the system won’t recover by itself, it needs active intervention in order to recover to a more resilient state, and we are looking for funds to conduct the science required to work out how best to do this.”

For more details on shellfish reef restoration, see

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