Joint media release: New shellfish reef complete at O'Sullivan Beach

19 November 2021

The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment
Senator Andrew McLachlan CSC, Senator for South Australia


Construction of a new native shellfish reef more than twice the size of the Adelaide Oval at O’Sullivan Beach is now complete, bringing with it a vital boost to biodiversity, jobs, tourism and recreational opportunities.

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the project was funded with $1.8 million through the Morrison Government’s Reef Builder program.

“Shellfish reefs once thrived around Australia’s coasts but were victim to overharvesting and dredging in the late 1800s,” Minister Ley said.

“Our $20 million Reef Builder Program through The Nature Conservancy is helping to reverse some of that damage, with each reef capable of boosting fish stocks by thousands of kilograms each year.

“The new reef at Onkaparinga is more than twice the size of Adelaide Oval, was constructed using locally-sourced limestone and was seeded with hatchery-raised Australian Flat Oysters to create a flourishing marine environment.

“It will join Adelaide’s newly expanded Glenelg shellfish reef which was completed in October.”

Senator for South Australia Andrew McLachlan CSC said the reef will provide a wide range of benefits for the southern suburbs. 

“I have been overwhelmed by the support for the O’Sullivan Beach shellfish reef when talking with members of the local community,” Senator McLachlan said.

“Shellfish reefs provide significant environmental benefits including creating habitat for fish and filtering vast quantities of water, but importantly, they also provide new recreational and economic opportunities. 

“The reef’s vicinity to the existing O’Sullivan Beach boat ramp and close proximity to the shore will ensure it is easily accessible and I can’t wait to get in the water and check it out myself. 

“We must work increasingly hard to reverse the damage our civilisation has wrought on the environment and projects such as this highlight the important role we can play as stewards, committed to preserving our environment for generations to come.”

The Nature Conservancy Australia (TNC)’s Managing Director Alison Rowe said that the O’Sullivan Beach shellfish reef, together with the expanded Glenelg reef will help bring back a native ecosystem in South Australian waters. 

“The O’Sullivan reef will create habitat to support biodiversity in our oceans. The Australian Flat Oysters really are the engineers of this whole ecosystem, attracting other shellfish and invertebrates which will in turn attract small fish and eventually, bigger fish,” Ms Rowe said.

Reef Builder is an exciting partnership between the Australian Government and The Nature Conservancy which will rebuild reefs around the Australian coastline, creating up to 170 jobs, engaging up to 120 local contractors and bringing marine ecosystems back from the brink of extinction.