Fund amount:
$287,000 over two years

Program area:
Biodiversity Conservation

Mornington Peninsula



Funding reef restoration off the coast of Dromana

23 Feb 2020

A grant of $287,000 over two years will support The Nature Conservancy Australia’s plan to bring back Victoria’s lost reefs, with a reef restoration project in Port Phillip Bay off the coast of Dromana.

The Nature Conservancy Australia plan is part of Australia’s largest marine restoration initiative, bringing back 60 shellfish reefs across Australia. 

A successful model, which has been rolled out around Australia and also at Victorian sites in Geelong and St Kilda, leading to two and half hectares of new reef, is now being put in place at Dromana thanks to the grant from the Ross Trust. 

This project, Bringing Back Victoria's Lost Oyster Reefs, will restore a further one hectare of new oyster reef near Dromana and will improve community understanding and knowledge by engaging 50 local volunteers in citizen science and active restoration activities.

Extensive fishing in the late 1800s and early 1900s, broke up the reefs and along with commercial dredging, pollution and overfishing, contributed to the decimation of the ecosystems. 

The project aims to restore native oyster reef ecosystems to improve Port Phillip’s biodiversity, fisheries and water quality and to recover a near lost ecosystem from extinction. 

Did you know oysters are phenomenal biological filters? Each oyster can filter 150 litres a day with one hectare of reef filtering 2.7 billion litres of seawater a year! Bringing them back has significant flow-on benefits. 

One of the appealing features of The Nature Conservancy’s model for reef restoration is the involvement of the local community. They seek to build capacity but also create jobs and other local opportunities. 

With a collaborative approach, The Nature Conservancy involves recreational fishers and government in site selection; maritime construction firms, commercial divers, mussel farmers and shellfish hatchery in design and construction; community groups, divers, citizen scientists, corporate partners in shell preparation and reef monitoring; restaurants, seafood wholesaler, corporate partners in shell recycling.   

Take a look at this video of how the Port Phillip Bay project is working: 
The project will benefit all Victorians including visitors now and in the future by enhancing marine biodiversity, fish numbers and cleaner waters, whilst also contributing to the recovery of Victoria and Australia’s most imperilled marine ecosystem.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organisation working around the world to protect lands and waters and has operated in Australia since 2002. 

The Ian Potter Foundation and the Thomas Foundation are also funders of this project. The Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation provides funding for the Geelong/Corio Bay reef restoration project.