Joint media release: Reef twice as big as Adelaide Oval now complete

26 October 2021

The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment
The Hon David Speirs MP, South Australian Minister for Environment and Water
Nicolle Flint MP, Federal Member for Boothby

The final stages of construction to expand a native shellfish reef off the coast of Glenelg from two-hectares to five-hectares are now complete, providing a vital boost for marine biodiversity, local jobs, tourism and recreational opportunities. 

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the project is part of the Morrison Government’s $20 million commitment to rebuild 11 native shellfish reefs and the first of three reefs in South Australia.

“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.

“In areas like Glenelg, where fishing is a major employer and economic contributor, shellfish reefs can have a major impact, boosting water quality, increasing tourism and recreational fishing.”

South Australian Minister for the Environment and Water David Speirs said the existing reef at Glenelg was now larger than two Adelaide ovals.

“Shellfish reefs provide significant environmental benefits like habitat for fish and improved water quality, but they also provide new recreational and economic opportunities,” Minister Speirs said.

“We want to bring people closer to our wonderful natural environment, particularly after the impacts of COVID19 and we want to help them be a part of protecting and preserving our environment for generations to come.”

Member for Boothby Nicolle Flint said the expanded reef will provide a wide range of benefits for the region. 

“This is truly a local project – with limestone rocks sourced from a local quarry and more than two million hatchery-raised Australian Flat Oyster spats used to complete the reef.

“This project will recreate a living shellfish reef over the next few years, improving the environment and delivering a vital boost for our recreational fishers and our economy.”

The Nature Conservancy Managing Director Alison Rowe said oyster numbers at the existing two-hectare reef have already exceeded expectations, with thousands of oysters establishing on and around the reef. 

“This is a promising sign for shellfish reef recovery in South Australia and we're thrilled to be expanding the reef to this scale at a site that is easily accessible to scuba divers,” Ms Rowe said.
“Oysters are excellent water filters, with one oyster filtering up to 100 litres of water a day. This will help improve local water conditions and support the return of other ecosystems like seagrass.”

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.