Pygmy mussels looking strong again in WA to fill up black bream

In recent years, members of OzFish Perth Chapter has been collaborating with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to restore critical pygmy mussel habitat in the Swan-Canning River system in Western Australia, marking a significant step towards revitalising shellfish populations in the region.  

The decline of pygmy mussels in the river over the past few decades has placed added pressure on black bream, a species that relies on mussels as a vital food source during the winter season. The shortage of this food source has been linked to stunted growth in black bream, impacting the overall angling experience in the Swan-Canning. 

To address this issue and boost mussel habitat, TNC, with the assistance of OzFish volunteers, has installed 2km of biodegradable coir matting throughout the river.

This innovative approach provides an ideal base for the settlement of larval mussels, creating an environment for their growth and reproduction.  

The initial signs of mussel recovery at the restoration sites are promising, highlighting the positive impact of this unique habitat restoration effort. 

In recognition of the importance of community engagement and awareness, OzFish and TNC have conducted two workshops aimed at educating local recreational fishers about the critical role of mussels have in enhancing the quality of the recreational angling experience in Western Australia’s Swan-Canning estuary. These workshops serve as a platform to foster knowledge sharing and inform anglers on the significance of shellfish restoration in maintaining healthy fish populations. 

During these informative workshops, nearly 50 enthusiastic fishers had the opportunity to learn about the importance of pygmy mussels and their positive influence on the overall health of the Swan-Canning ecosystem. Participants gained valuable insights into the interdependence between shellfish and recreational angling. 

Moreover, these workshops offered anglers the chance to actively contribute to the restoration efforts by adopting a restoration site for citizen science monitoring. By participating in this initiative, anglers become citizen scientists, actively monitoring and collecting data on the recovery progress of pygmy mussels.

This direct involvement empowers fishers to contribute directly to the conservation and restoration of shellfish habitats, fostering a sense of ownership and stewardship among the angling community. 

The response to the workshops has been positive, with participants expressing a desire to continue supporting habitat restoration initiatives in the Swan-Canning. The growing momentum among recreational fishers demonstrates a collective commitment to revitalising the region’s aquatic ecosystems for future generations. 

Looking ahead, OzFish and TNC are dedicated to expanding their habitat restoration efforts in the Swan-Canning, building upon the successes achieved thus far. 

The workshops conducted by OzFish Unlimited and The Nature Conservancy serve as an example of the impact that community involvement can have on habitat restoration efforts.  

Stay tuned for updates on the ongoing progress of Pygmy Mussel habitat restoration in the Swan-Canning, as OzFish volunteers continue to make a positive difference.

This project is funded by the Fisheries Habitat Restoration Project, supported by Perth NRM through funding from the Australian Government. It is being delivered by The Nature Conservancy in partnership with OzFish and Murdoch University.

Become an OzFish member today to be involved in habitat restoration projects like this across the country.



This project was made possible through funds provided to The Nature Conservancy from the Fisheries Habitat Restoration Program, supported by Perth NRM through funding from the Australian Government.