New shellfish reef for Onkaparinga Leatherjacket fish at the Windara shellfish reef on the Yorke Peninsula. Photo: Anita Nedosyko O'Sullivan Beach from the water. Photo: Anita Nedosyko
6 October 2020

New shellfish reef for Onkaparinga

The City of Onkaparinga’s push for a shellfish reef will now become a reality following a $20 million Australian Government funding announcement, aimed at boosting marine environments and economies of COVID-hit communities.

The region is one of at least 11 around Australia where the reefs will be built thanks to the Australian Government’s partnership with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), which is on a mission to restore the critically endangered ecosystems across southern Australia.

Shellfish reefs were once abundant in Australia’s bays and estuaries, but they were decimated by overharvesting, dredging and pollution from the 1850s to 1960s. Less than 10 per cent of them remain.

The Reef Builder – Coastal Communities Recovery Project is partly aimed at restoring these ecosystems. Shellfish reefs provide benefits such as cleaner oceans (each hectare of reef filters 2.7 billion litres of seawater), more fish and other species, and safer coastlines through erosion protection.

The partnership is also aimed at supporting coastal towns and areas in need of recovery from COVID-19 and recent bushfires, with the initiative tipped to create up to 170 jobs and engage up to 120 subcontractors.

It hasn’t yet been revealed when or where the reef will be built in Onkaparinga, but Port Noarlunga and O’Sullivan Beach were identified as potential sites earlier this year when the state government’s Department for the Environment and Water and TNC partnered to choose the location for the first metropolitan Adelaide project.

Council had earlier committed $40,000 in 2020-21 towards a shellfish reef, which will now be allocated to this project.

City of Onkaparinga Mayor Erin Thompson said it was great news for the region.

“The community’s strong support for a shellfish reef in the south played a significant role in the announcement, which will add to Onkaparinga’s 31 kilometres of stunning coastline,” she said.

“We’re committed to making sure our region’s natural environment thrives and our economy benefits everyone, so I’m looking forward to seeing the impact the reef has on our precious marine life and jobs.

“A big thank you to Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley and The Nature Conservancy for the announcement, and to South Australia’s Minister for Environment and Water, David Speirs, for his support in getting this over the line.”

Shellfish success

Port Noarlunga was one of two locations previously identified as a potential home for a shellfish reef in Onkaparinga.

Leatherjacket fish at the Windara shellfish reef on the Yorke Peninsula. Photo: Anita Nedosyko

O'Sullivan Beach from the water. Photo: Anita Nedosyko

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