May 28, 2018

A citizen-science restoration project is underway to return native shellfish back to the Port River.

The Port River Shellfish Restoration Project is a community-led citizen science project that aims to bring oysters, mussels and razor fish back into the waters of the Port River and Barket Inlet.

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The project was established by the Estuary Care Foundation in 2016, thanks to funding from the Community NRM Action Grant. Local community members, affectionately dubbed ‘oyster gardeners’, have been reintroducing baby shellfish across six sites including pontoons of the Cruising Yacht Club and the wharves of Flinders Port.

The restoration project is particularly focussed on the reintroduction of a native flat oyster, ostrea angasi. This oyster was once plentiful throughout the Port River but is now classified as ‘functionally extinct’ throughout South Australia.

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Restoring ostrea angasi to the ecosystem and providing habitats for existing shellfish is expected to improve water quality, help stabilise shorelines, and enhance the ecology of the estuary.

“A single native oyster can filter 100 litres of water per day,” said Catherine McMahon, founder of the Estuary Care Foundation.

“Oysters are bio-accumulators, so with stormwater in the River and the legacy of heavy
metals in the mud, native oysters are great environmental champions.”

The project is supported by the South Australia Research and Development Institute (SARDI), who have provided 1200 baby oysters. So far, 300 adult native oysters have been successfully grown.

The Port River Shellfish Reef Restoration Project is part of a broader effort to restore reefs across South Australia. Historically, shellfish reefs once dominated 1600 kilometers of the South Australian coastline. But due to overfishing, the reefs declined to near extinction.

For more information about the project and to get involved, contact the Estuary Care Foundation.

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