NRM South is working in partnership with The Nature Conservancy on the Reef Builder project to restore two hectares of native Angasi oyster reef in southeast Tasmania’s Derwent Estuary and D’Entrecasteaux Channel.
Tasmania is home to Australia’s last remaining native Angasi oyster reef. These reefs were once common throughout Tasmanian waters but following intensive dredging and changing estuarine conditions in the years following European colonisation, these ecosystems soon collapsed. Since then, the native oyster reefs have not shown signs of recovery.
Jennifer Hemer, NRM South’s Marine and Water Program Manager, explained that this project is part of a $20M investment by the Australian Government in the restoration of 13 sites nationwide during 2021-23. ‘Under the Reef Builder program, The Nature Conservancy is working to restore shellfish reefs across Australia,’ explained Jen. ‘Our sites are the only Reef Builder sites located in Tasmania, and our state is also home to the only remaining functioning Angasi oyster reef in Australia.’
NRM South started construction works at two sites (Helliwells Point in Woodbridge and Dixons Beach in Taroona) in late April. Marine contractor Polaris Marine, who have worked on similar reef construction works in South Australia, Victoria and NSW, will be using a barge and a long-reach excavator to place rock onto the seabed within specified reef construction areas for 10-12 days commencing on 28 April. Residents and local businesses in closest proximity to the restoration areas have been notified of the upcoming construction.
While there will be some temporary restrictions on boating or swimming activities during this construction period, the long-term benefits of reef restoration are significant. Once the construction works are complete, the new reef will be seeded with juvenile native oysters. As well as securing the future of this vastly diminished ecosystem, restoring shellfish reefs could improve water quality, boost fish stocks, provide homes for a diverse range of sea life, and support regional employment.
For anyone planning to visit these areas during the construction works, there will be a notice to mariners outlining the specific construction area and minimum distances for recreational boats, swimmers and commercial vessels to transit the area with care. Further information on the Australian Government funded Reef Builder Tasmania project can be found on the NRM South website at: https://nrmsouth.org.au/reef-builder/