An oyster reef restoration project aims to benefit the health of the estuary and the marine life within the Port Stephens Great Lakes marine park.
An oyster reef restoration project aims to benefit the health of the estuary and the marine life within the Port Stephens Great Lakes marine park.

Oyster reefs can’t help clean up Richmond River

THE FIRST-quarter moon on Sunday brings neap tides with less than a metre of difference between high and low.

Those chasing flathead, bream and whiting in the rivers won’t have to contend with strong tidal flow and the fish won’t be able to escape deep into the mangroves at high tide.

North-easterly winds topping 20 knots are tipped to blow up each afternoon, closing down the beach fishing and driving the offshore fleets home. What’s new?

Fortunately there’s not much swell on the bars, although boaties will still need to be cautious when setting out on the ebb tide early in the morning.

Those northerlies might drop the inshore temps a little but the East Australian Current is beginning to dominate now and there’s a fair chance of finding a tropical pelagic to supplement the teraglin and snapper over the close reefs.

Oyster reefs growing

PORT STEPHENS is the focus of the first large-scale oyster reef restoration project in NSW.

“This project will deliver a wide range of benefits to the health of the estuary and the marine life within the (Port Stephens Great Lakes) marine park,” DPI Fisheries manager Kirk Dahle said.

“Until early March, construction crews will place more than 3000 tonnes of rock and over 150 cubic metres of recycled oyster shell onto reef restoration sites in Port Stephens.

“The oyster shell has been collected from the local oyster farms located around Port Stephens and will be used to provide a base for oyster settlement on the new oyster reefs.

“Oyster reefs provide a wide range of benefits including water filtration, shoreline protection and the provision of food, shelter and protection for a range of marine creatures including recreational and commercial fish species.”

Oyster reefs once covered vast areas in NSW estuaries but the majority of these natural reefs were lost due to historical over-harvesting or removal of oysters and their habitat, dredging for navigation, water pollution and disease.

It’s still too early to go for oyster reefs to help clean up the Richmond River.

Acid runoff can dissolve oyster shells, even some of the more disease-resistant oysters that seem to be repopulating the Richmond in these years of low runoff.

Smack in the Facebook

TWO PEOPLE have been fined a total of $27,450 after being caught selling recreationally-harvested cockles online.

DPI Fisheries officers investigated the two, who harvested the cockles in Lake Illawarra and then advertised them for sale through social media in the Sydney region.

As well as stealing a public resource, selling recreationally-caught fish is a risk to public health, the DPI says, because the seafood is not subject to the same testing and handling procedures as legitimate commercial harvest.

Anyone suspecting illegal activity should call the Fishers Watch hotline on 1800 043 536 or complete the online illegal activity report form.