March 30, 2020

Announcing a new shellfish reef for Peel-Harvey Estuary


Funded by the Alcoa Foundation, shellfish reefs covering an area about the size of two tennis courts or 500 square metres in total, will be installed in the Peel-Harvey Estuary under a $1 million project designed to breathe new life into the waterway.

“Just like the other shellfish reefs we’ve restored across Australia and around the world, this new mussel reef will help improve fish populations, water quality and biodiversity in the estuary,” said The Nature Conservancy’s local project manager, Alex Hams. “It will also boost ecotourism, local employment and community connection to the waterway.”

The project builds on a successful two-year feasibility study, also funded by Alcoa Foundation and conducted in collaboration with Murdoch University. That study assessed suitable locations in the estuary to support native mussel reefs, in consultation with local stakeholders. Rebuilding shellfish habitats was one of four priority projects identified, inspiring development of this new project.

As part of the project, the Peel community will be called on to have its say on the best locations to install the new reefs, as well as help grow mussels in their own ‘shellfish gardens’ to provide an ongoing supply to support the reef ecosystems.

The Nature Conservancy is working closely with the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council (PHCC), a range of local schools and community groups that are keen to become shellfish growers, and with Traditional Owners through the appointment of Theo Kearing as the Project’s Noongar Coordinator.

Dr Steve Fisher, Science and Waterways Program Manager at PHCC said, “We’re really supportive of the work that The Nature Conservancy is leading on habitat restoration in the estuary. It connects well with our restoration work upstream in the catchment and rivers. The Nature Conservancy is a world leader in shellfish reef restoration and its fantastic for the Peel region to have them working here.”

Support for the shellfish reef project is part of a larger, multi-million-dollar commitment by Alcoa and the Alcoa Foundation to the waterways of the Peel region.

Jodie Read, Corporate Affairs Director at Alcoa Australia, said “Through our ‘Three Rivers, One Estuary’ vision, Alcoa is  supporting a multi-agency and community approach to helping improve the Serpentine, Murray and Harvey rivers and the Peel Harvey Estuary that they feed. By working together we can ensure the ongoing health of these waterways, which are the life blood of our communities not only from an environmental perspective but also socially and economically.”

The Peel-Harvey Project adds to The Nature Conservancy’s other shellfish reef restoration projects in WA, including a recently completed new oyster reef in Oyster Harbour, Albany and a mussel reef restoration project underway in the Swan-Canning Estuary – all part of our national plan to build 60 shellfish reefs in six years across Australia.  

Find out more about the Peel-Harvey Estuary project by watching this video. 
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organisation dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. To learn more about The Nature Conservancy in Australia, visit our website or follow us on Facebook.