Oysters and mussels and harbour cruises - sounds like a tough
day at the office, doesn't it? The Committee for Geelong recently
joined a group of Geelong business and community leaders for a
chartered boat tour on Corio Bay and into Geelong Harbour. It may
sound glamorous, but it was more science lesson than soiree.
The charter was organised by The Nature Conservancy who,
alongside the Victorian State Government and the Albert Park
Yachting and Angling Club, are leading an ambitious project to
create a thriving 'blue economy' for Geelong by rebuilding the
once-abundant oyster and mussel reefs of Corio Bay. They are
literally regrowing a reef, so shellfish can thrive once again.
Conservancy scientists showed us around Wilson Spit, where they
are testing a range of reef restoration methods to find the perfect
fit for Geelong. Like a living laboratory, they test successful
restoration methods from other countries, adapting the methods to
suit local conditions.
The project is the first of its kind for Australia, but why are
shellfish so important? Project Manager Simon Branigan explained
that "Native oyster reefs and mussel beds are nature's water
filters: a single oyster can filter a bathtub of water in a day.
We're seeking additional funding to create a reef five times the
size of Simonds Stadium - that's a lot of oysters and a lot of
clean water. And of course the benefits to fish stocks are
Rebuilding the 'natural infrastructure' of oyster reefs creates
employment in construction, science, technology, aquaculture and
the visitor economy. These kinds of jobs are critical to the future
of Geelong, bringing together our proud heritage of manufacturing
with the rapidly emerging innovation and knowledge
One of the vital ingredients in the project is a hard surface
for juvenile oysters to grow on - preferably another oyster or
similar shell such as mussel or scallop. Dredge fishing during the
1800 and 1900s removed most of the existing oyster shell from Port
Phillip Bay, making it impossible for reefs to re-establish
naturally. The Nature Conservancy'sShuck Don't Chuckinitiative -
another national first - collects recycled oyster, mussel, scallop
and abalone shells from Geelong restaurants, adds limestone and
places them on the bay floor as a natural surface for juvenile
oysters to latch onto.
The Committee was pleased to learn that Shuck Don't Chuckhas the
financial and in-kind support of Brambles. Better known for
operating under the CHEP brand in Australia, Brambles offers shared
and reusable solutions through a circular economy business model.
In support of this initiative, the local CHEP team is donating
containers to collect and recycle the shells, is providing advice
on reverse logistics and welcomes willing employees as volunteers
This innovative program is already reducing landfill and
creating jobs. For example, Geelong Disabled People's (GDP)
Industries, a local organisation that provides assisted employment,
has been contracted for the collection, transport, sorting and
storage of the shells. As Geelong transforms, our community
should embrace projects like this one that create natural, economic
and social value for our region.
Rebecca Casson is the Committee for Geelong Chief Executive
Officer. Follow the Committee for Geelong on Twitter
Group of Geelong business &
community leaders take a chartered boat tour on Corio Bay