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OceanWatch Australia is helping NSW coastal communities turn old oyster shell into living shorelines in an Australian first.

Shellfish reefs once formed the backbone of many temperate & subtropical estuaries, and whilst small populations continue to exist in most bays and estuaries, these are only a small fraction compared to the numbers seen pre-European settlement. In New South Wales, researchers estimate that over 99% of natural shellfish reefs have been lost due to pollution, sedimentation, disease and habitat loss or degradation from coastal development.

Working alongside engineers and ecologists, we’re focused on balancing shoreline protection and habitat creation by designing “living shorelines”. These living structures support, rather than degrade the surrounding ecosystem. We believe in reducing the use of plastic and plastic fibre products in marine rehabilitation projects, and so are trialling the use of 100% natural, biodegradable materials in this project.

This program is a huge opportunity to develop a process through which old shell (essentially a waste product) can be treated, bagged and used to enhance the natural environment. It also provides universities with research opportunities and an excellent avenue to engage local communities in environmental works. Recreational fishermen, commercial fishermen, oyster farmers, Landcare groups, landholders, state government agencies, indigenous stakeholders, natural resource managers, local councils and hospitality heavyweights have all been engaged in the trial.

The trial currently involves 9 trial sites across the Hastings River, Macleay River, Parramatta River & Sydney Harbour. Funding support has been provided by the Australia Government, Sydney Coastal Councils Group, Greater Sydney Local Land Services, Landcare NSW and the NSW Recreational Fishing Trust.

Learn more about the habitat value of Sydney rock oyster reefs.

To find out how you can get involved please email:

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