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An important part of our marine ecosystem is shellfish reefs, they not only provide benefits for humans but for our fishy friends. 

Shellfish Revolution Projects

Shellsavers, Flinders VIC

Shellsavers, Flinders VIC

Mornington Peninsula locals are diverting oyster shells from landfill to create new reefs in Port Phillip and Westernport Bays. The Shell recycling site has been established at the Flinders hopper where the recycled shell is ready to be collected and undergo biosecurity protocols to be ...

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Nerang River, Qld

Nerang River, Qld

OzFish Unlimited's QOD revolutionizes shellfish reef restoration—a global first. Cost-effective, fast, and scalable, it transforms rock walls into living seawalls, promoting biodiversity. A breakthrough in conservation, the QOD brings life to once barren rock expanses. 

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North Pine River Shellfish Research

North Pine River Shellfish Research

Groundbreaking Research headed by OzFish will uncover if oyster reef restoration can provide a nature-based solution to the problem of nitrogen in Australia’s waterways, A pioneering trial at the North Pine River, north of Brisbane is now underway to see if oyster reefs could be the answer to ...

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Maroochy River and Caboolture River, QLD 2023

Maroochy River and Caboolture River, QLD 2023

Through the Caboolture and Maroochy community’s combined actions, native fish habitat continues to be protected and restored within Queensland. Restoration included improvements of in-stream habitat, saltmarsh monitoring a unique shellfish reef trial and and riparian and wetland ...

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Pimp My Jetty – Lake Macquarie NSW

Pimp My Jetty – Lake Macquarie NSW

Members of OzFish Lake Macquarie Chapter are bringing an innovative shellfish restoration project to Australia’s largest saltwater tidal waterway. OzFish will work with private jetty owners to install environmentally friendly hanging habitat to help restore vitally important shellfish reefs to ...

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Pimp My Jetty – Sydney Harbour NSW

Pimp My Jetty – Sydney Harbour NSW

OzFish’s innovative ‘Pimp My Jetty’ program aims to increase the availability of fish in Sydney Harbour by transforming existing jetties and pontoons into vibrant fish habitat. The Sydney Harbour Chapter plan to design, build, and monitor eco-friendly structures that will create additional ...

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Pimp My Jetty – Gold Coast QLD

Pimp My Jetty – Gold Coast QLD

OzFish Gold Coast Chapter will work with 10 private jetty owners to install environmentally friendly hanging habitat to help restore vitally important shellfish reefs to the waterways of the Gold Coast. The project is funded by City of Gold Coast 2022/23 Catchment and Citizen Science Grants ...

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Port River Shellfish Restoration, Adelaide – SA

Port River Shellfish Restoration, Adelaide – SA

OzFish volunteers and members of the local community set out to take steps to begin the return of thriving shellfish reefs to the Port River estuary. This built on previous successful trials by the Estuary Care Foundation to return native flat oysters to the waterway. 

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Fish Castles, Gippsland Lakes VIC

Fish Castles, Gippsland Lakes VIC

OzFish is encouraging local people to become citizen scientists and help monitor a new oyster reef in Narooma, on the south coast of NSW. By volunteering, people will be playing an important role in restoring a healthy aquatic habitat to the state’s coastline.

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Wagonga Inlet Oyster Reef Restoration, NSW

Wagonga Inlet Oyster Reef Restoration, NSW

OzFish is encouraging local people to become citizen scientists and help monitor a new oyster reef in Narooma, on the south coast of NSW. By volunteering, people will be playing an important role in restoring a healthy aquatic habitat to the state’s coastline.

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Black pygmy mussel restoration, Swan Canning Estuary – Perth

Black pygmy mussel restoration, Swan Canning Estuary – Perth

The Swan-Canning black bream population are set to get a boost, with a new project set to increase numbers of one of their favourite food sources: the black pygmy mussel. Black pygmy mussels are a crucial food source for bream and when their diet is rich in this specific shellfish it leads to ...

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Pimp My Jetty – Peel-Harvey WA

Pimp My Jetty – Peel-Harvey WA

OzFish’s innovative ‘Pimp My Jetty’ program is helping to return shellfish habitat to the Peel-Harvey estuary, near Mandurah in Western Australia and address an important ecological challenge. The project brings together recreational fisher volunteers and the local community to restore healthy ...

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Shellfish reefs are endangered in the marine ecosystem

An important part of our marine ecosystem is shellfish reefs, sadly, they are critically endangered, with 99% of shellfish reefs functionally extinct within Australia. Shellfish reefs are declining due to sediment runoff and human impacts such as pollution, overharvesting and reef dredging for shells. This not only reduces shellfish numbers but also takes away the hard substrate they need to re-establish naturally. Basically, they can’t multiply if they have nowhere to anchor.  

It’s not all bad news though, with mammoth efforts being undertaken by conservation groups, businesses, communities, and everyday Aussies to restore our reefs to their former glory. It is an ongoing project that will take many years to accomplish, but so far, the results are promising.  

What are shellfish reefs?

Shellfish reefs are living vertical structures, found in bays, estuaries, and nearshore coastal waters. These complex structures are made up of millions of shellfish, including mussels, oysters, pipis, and cockles. They form a hard substrate by clustering together and attaching to older shells, rocks, piers, or any rigid, submerged surface. 

Fish and other aquatic life rely on shellfish reefs for habitat, providing places where they can shelter, breed, and source food. They are also a natural filter, improving water clarity and promoting the growth of seagrass. These benefits create better fishing, with every hectare of living shellfish reef able to produce an additional 2.5 tonnes of harvestable fish per year.  

Shellfish restoration efforts

The restoration efforts take advantage of oysters’ natural tendency to grow together in clumps. One method involves collecting recycled oyster shells, and after a period of sanitation, placing them in degradable mesh baskets that are deployed in the water.

This creates a natural hard surface for baby oysters to attach, with one shell housing up to 10 baby oysters, now that’s a lot of mouths to feed! 

Taking action to restore these reefs will help to reinstate a traditional food source, improve water quality, and increase fish numbers. This leads to better, stronger, and healthier fish populations. 

What can OzFishers do?

The following are some ways OzFish and its volunteers are positively contributing to shellfish reef restoration 

  • Establishment of the Moreton Bay Shellfish Recycling Centre 
  • Working bees to help sanitise and build ROBs 
  • Deploying of ROBs 
  • Monitoring and reporting restoration progress 
  • Deploying reef substrate 
  • Quantifying organisms and aquatic life found in ROBs  
  • Purchasing and running an oyster lease to grow baby oysters 
  • Collaboration between communities, businesses, and volunteers 
  • Running engagement and education events 
  • Constructing artificial habitats
  • Installing mussel mats 
  • Installing custom-made habitats under jetties 
  • Working with local oyster growers to understand the local shellfish population 
  • Helping to research the QX disease 

shellfish revoluation

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Help us raise funds for our restoration initiatives by becoming an OzFish member today. Learn more about member benefits!

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Our shellfish reefs require ongoing maintenance, so both the fish that call them home and the communities that enjoy them can thrive. You can be part of giving back by making a donation to the Shellfish Revolution Project today.

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The Shellfish Revolution Project provides a portable habitat restoration hub, that makes it possible to regenerate as much of a waterway’s catchment area as possible, not just those areas where humans congregate.

The ongoing success of the Shellfish Revolution Project will rely on the continuing engagement of local stakeholders to ensure the region’s individuals, groups and organisations can take ownership of the health of their shellfish reefs.