Trial oyster reefs are subject to further three-year funding in Noosa and now the project processes have just been independently reviewed.
Trial oyster reefs are subject to further three-year funding in Noosa and now the project processes have just been independently reviewed.

Expert backs shelling out $200k for oyster reef

An expert is backing a ratepayer-funded $200,000 shell-out for Noosa’s ambitious river oyster reef restoration project after an independent review found it had meet 16 of its 20 its performance criteria.

Noosa Council has already outlaid $179,000 to The Nature Conservancy as part of its partnership agreement.

The council this year appointed an independent assessment of the process.

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Of the four criteria in question, the $5280 review by Eberhard Consulting, to be presented to council’s general committee on Monday, found none raised any significant concerns.

Council environment services manager Craig Doolan said overall Eberhad rated the plan “robust and comprehensive” with the proposed indicators and monitoring methods likely to be effective.

Oyster reefs being prepared for trial on the Noosa River.
Oyster reefs being prepared for trial on the Noosa River.

“The review makes some suggestions for minor additions/clarifications to the monitoring and evaluation plan,” Mr Doolan said.

The aim now is to work with The Nature Conservancy to review and implement six recommendations.

One of the key findings was the delayed appointment of a project manager, along with a legacy of confusion in the community about the nature of the project, meant considerable effort had to be placed on community consultation meetings.

The Nature Conservancy annual report said the manager had met with more than 65 key stakeholders and community representatives.

Eberhad found this has impacted on progressing the restoration design, engineering technical support, ecological assessments and shell recycling.

The pandemic has also been a disruption to the project but the The Nature Conservancy reported it had adapted to changes and remained on track.

The Nature Conservancy Shuck Don’t Chuck campaign is designed to enlist local restaurants on the Coast to make available their used shells for use in helping build the artificial reefs.

At previous reef restorations the shells were collected then cured to kill off any diseases by being laid out in the sun for a few months.

Trying hard to bring back the fish through oyster reef restorations to increase biodiversity in the Noosa River.
Trying hard to bring back the fish through oyster reef restorations to increase biodiversity in the Noosa River.

“COVID-19 has created some specific challenges for the project, especially around meaningful engagement with the community and starting citizen science opportunities,” Mr Doolan said.

“The Shuck Don’t Chuck program has been enthusiastically received by some local businesses when original discussions were had with them in November 2019.

“After being put on hold, these conversations are now being revisited to see what capacity businesses have to be involved.

“Other arrangements are also in place to ensure the consistent supply of shell needed for the project.”

The council is also working towards establishing a Noosa River Stakeholder Reference Group to provide strategic input, local knowledge and expertise into river management initiatives starting with the shellfish restoration project.

The group will also have input into the finalisation and implementation of the Noosa River Plan.


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