August 06, 2019
Austral Fisheries had the pleasure of hosting Dr Chris Gillies and Dr Fiona Valesini of The Nature Conservancy at our head office in Perth today. Chris and Fiona stopped by to give our team an update on the exciting new project geared toward restoring the health of Perth’s Swan-Canning Estuary.
Austral Fisheries announced a financial contribution to the project in May, alongside significant donations from the Minderoo Foundation, Lotterywest, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attraction and other companies and philanthropists, which will enable the campaign to go ahead.
The Nature Conservancy will undertake a series of activities to improve the estuary’s health, including the restoration of lost shellfish reefs. Native shellfish reefs include oysters and mussels, and are Australia’s most threatened ecosystem.
Chris took the Austral team through the work that The Nature Conservancy do globally, which includes conservation efforts in 72 countries across six continents, with a broad focus on:
- 1. Tackling Climate Change
- 2. Protecting Land & Water
- 3. Providing Food & Water Sustainability
- 4. Building Healthy Cities
The Nature Conservancy boasts more than a million members with a diverse range of staff and over 400 scientists working together on conservation projects across the globe.
The Swan-Canning Estuary restoration project is one of these projects. Given that it is here in our own backyard and with clear links between Austral’s marine operations and this project, it is one that Austral, with the backing of director Theo Kailis, were keen to support from the get-go.
The project will begin with an assessment of habitat suitability, which involves identifying the best possible locations that Blue Mussels, as well as Black Pygmy Mussels, might thrive in the estuary. Next, pilot reefs for Blue Mussels will be constructed on limestone and shell substrate, which involves the introduction of juvenile Blue Mussels to the sites. The most successful pilot reef sites will then be scaled up to larger reefs in the next phase of the process. Throughout this process, there will be a focus on engaging key stakeholders and the wider community, with the progress and projected benefits of the project shared regularly.
The key benefits of rebuilding shellfish reefs such as these include improved local fish stocks, better water clarity due to enhanced filtration, increased shoreline protection, extra feeding habitat for threatened migratory shorebirds, and an overall increase in biodiversity. The Swan-Canning project is part of a bigger TNC program to restore shellfish reefs across southern Australia.
Austral Fisheries would like to extend a sincere thanks to Chris and Fiona for taking the time to visit our Perth office and explain the project in more detail to our team. We look forward to seeing the project progress and the health of our local river system improve over the next few years.