Joint media release: 'Musseling in' to help marine ecosystems

11 June 2021

The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment
The Hon Steve Irons MP, Member for Swan 

The Morrison Government is throwing in new mussel to support marine ecosystems, with the seeding of a reef restoration project in Perth’s Swan-Canning Estuary.

In a week where the UN launches its Decade of Ecosystem Restoration in 2021, more than one million live, locally-grown native Blue Mussels will be deployed across pilot reefs built between Point Walter (Bicton) and Point Dundas (Applecross) supported by the Morrison Government’s $20 million Reef Builder program. 

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the native mussels will improve the health of the estuary by filtering millions of litres of water and boosting fish stocks.

“We are working with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to restore local marine environments by rebuilding native shellfish reefs at 13 sites around the country,” Minister Ley said.

“These projects are helping marine ecosystems, creating jobs and supporting local tourism.

“Only last month I visited Port Stephens for the completion of the first reef and saw how it will support local marine environments, attracting more fish and with them more tourists.

“The million mussels being ‘seeded’ in Perth this week will help us determine the best sites for building a larger full-scale reef planned for mid to late 2022. 

“The pilot reefs in the Swan-Canning Estuary have already seen some excellent results for marine life, as scallops, sea squirts, fish and crabs start to take residence in their new rocky homes.”

Member for Swan Steve Irons said restoring native shellfish reefs will deliver wider benefits for the waterway and local communities.

“Bringing reefs back to the Swan-Canning Estuary will keep our waterways healthy for decades to come and boost opportunities for recreational fishing, economic development and tourism,” Mr Irons said. 

Works at the site form part of a wider shellfish reef restoration project being supported by the Minderoo Foundation, Lotterywest, the WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions and several WA philanthropists.

TNC Australia Managing Director Alison Rowe said that the seeding of the pilot reefs marked an important and exciting time for the project.

“Rebuilding these reefs and adapting the shellfish species to suit our changing conditions, will help bring back vital functions to keep the estuary healthy and more resilient to stress,” Ms Rowe said.

The 13 reef projects identified under the Morrison Government Reef Builder program, will support the economic recovery of many communities impacted by bushfires and COVID-19. Up to 170 jobs will be created and up to 120 local contractors engaged in delivering these important restoration efforts. 

It is estimated that fully restored and functioning reefs will produce more than 370 kg of new fish each year.

Find out more about Reef Builder: