Artificial shellfish reef final large
Artificial shellfish reef final large

New fishing hot-spot off Yorke Peninsula

21 Aug. 2017 3 min read

Learn how an artificial shellfish reef being built off Ardrossan’s coast will lure in more of your favourite fish.

If you and your family are into fishing, take note. South Australia’s first artificial shellfish reef is being built near Ardrossan on the Yorke Peninsula, so you now have a great new spot to wet a line.

Ardrossan is a well-known fishing hot-spot for King George whiting, yellowfin whiting, snapper, mullet, garfish, snook, crab and flathead.

The Yorke Peninsula already attracts about a million visitors each year, with about half of these visiting the region specifically to take part in recreational fishing.

While this artificial reef in north-western Gulf St Vincent will take some time to establish, it will hopefully attract more of these popular fish species to the area – which means a better chance of you hooking a decent haul.

Curious to see how it was built? Check out this video.

Yorke Peninsula Shellfish Reef

Shellfish reefs needed by the seashore

Shellfish reefs once characterised the sheltered nearshore areas of SA.

But from 1886 to 1946 reefs suffered – here and in many places around the world – from the impact of overfishing, dredging, water pollution and disease. Native oyster reefs are now virtually absent from SA’s waters and there’s only one native oyster reef left in Australia, in Tasmania.

Recent research has highlighted the importance of shellfish reef habitats to the quality of the marine environment, including fish breeding.

Oysters can filter up to 100 litres of water each per day, while the reefs provide a nursery area for young fish, and their empty shells are used by some species of fish to lay their eggs.

They can also play a vital role in the underwater nutrient cycle, which can assist in seagrass growth, and can even act as a ‘blue carbon’ sink thanks to the way their shells are formed.

Here fishy, fishy, fishy

The Ardrossan artificial shellfish reef is being built to improve the habitat for fish. It will help attract fish species that are popular with anglers, and in the longer-term will benefit breeding of these and other fish.

The reef is made from purpose-built concrete structures, limestone, Pacific Oyster shells, with live native oysters to be added later this year.

The first stage covers 4 hectares, with Phase 2 to expand the reef to 20 hectares later this year.

It takes into account SA’s unique conditions, such as weather and marine environment, as well as the life cycle of native oyster species.

The idea is that in time, as the oysters grow and develop, it will become a living reef which is diverse and a highly productive habitat for other fish.

Bigger fish to fry

The restoration of native shellfish reefs has been trialled overseas and in other Australian states, including in Victoria and Western Australia – and the results have been promising.

The SA trial will be the largest shellfish reef restoration project undertaken in the country.

Following the trial, artificial shellfish reefs may have the potential to be developed in other SA coastal locations.

For everything you need to know about fishing on the Yorke Peninsula, check out theYorke Peninsula Fishing Guide. There's great action to be had from a boat, the shore or the jetty.

(Image courtesy of PIRSA)


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