Now with a newly established OzFish APYAC Chapter, volunteers are looking forward to using their Chapter as a platform to get their hands dirty and help construct and monitor future shellfish reefs. The OzFish members are keen to make a difference in the bay and look after their local habitat.
The Traditional Owners and Custodians of land and sea in the Albert Park region are the Bun Wurrung Aboriginal people.
The OzFish APYAC Chapter has a long history of members fishing in Port Phillip and Westernport, along with fishing trips to many of the inland fisheries Victoria has to offer.
Fishers generally target snapper in the area, and it’s most definitely the Chapter member’s favourite species to catch. The northern end of the bay is an ideal place for snapper fishing, right on Melbourne’s doorstep.
Some of the main concerns in the bay are loss of shellfish reefs, declines in blue spot flathead, run-off concerns and litter.
For many years the Chapter noticed the large decline in shellfish reefs within the Port Phillip Bay area.
They partnered with the Nature Conservancy and the VFA to start restoring reefs and lead the way for national restoration efforts. Shellfish reefs like coral reefs are an important habitat for the survival of fish and surrounding habitats.
Shellfish reefs are key fish habitat that provide fish with places to breed, feed and shelter whilst improving water quality, protecting shorelines and increasing biodiversity. Over the past 200 years, we have lost between 90-99% of shellfish reefs in Australia, it is key that we restore these essential ecosystems.
Determining the success of restoration efforts is critical to ensure that the reef continues to develop healthy ecosystems.
The APYAC Chapter volunteers have assisted in monitoring shellfish reefs metrics including identifying fish species using the reef, along with measuring oyster and mussel survival and growth.
As part of the Port Phillip Bay funded project Reccys Restore The Bay members have been busy fishing for footage, conducting Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) monitoring at their local fishing spots and helping to monitor shellfish reefs restoration projects currently underway in Port Phillip Bay.
In partnership with the local Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority CMA, OzFish has been successful in a number of federally funded grants through the federal fish habitat restoration program.
The Chapter will be rolling up their sleeves and helping out with the Port Phillip Community Shellfish Reef and Reel Big Fish (Westernport) projects.
They’re looking forward to working with the CMA and other fishing stakeholders to achieve great outcomes for fish habitat in our Bays.