Reef restoration works commence at Wagonga inlet

The precious shoreline of Wagonga Inlet in Narooma will soon be protected by a new ‘living shoreline’, with the first stage of the landmark Wagonga Inlet Living Shoreline project kicking off today.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Acting Program Leader, Marine Strategy Implementation, Kylie Russell, said the project will showcase how innovative nature-based solutions can be effectively used in coastal management.

“‘Living shorelines’ protect our coastline by using natural elements such as plants and oyster reefs to prevent erosion, instead of traditional methods such as rock walls,” Ms Russell said.

“Beyond improving foreshore protection, ‘living shorelines’ also provide a range of social benefits such as enhancing recreational opportunities, integrating cultural values, engaging coastal communities and building habitat resilience.

“In late 2021, community and stakeholder groups were invited to contribute their ideas and comments about the project and the feedback received has been incorporated into the final project design.”

The Wagonga Inlet Living Shoreline project is an exciting new collaboration between DPI, the Eurobodalla Shire Council, and The Nature Conservancy Australia, with funding support from the Australian Government’s Reef Builder initiative and the NSW Marine Estate Management Strategy.

Heidi Thomson, Natural Resource and Sustainability Coordinator for Eurobodalla Shire Council, said stage one of the project will restore the first native flat oyster reef in NSW waters and the first intertidal oyster reef on the NSW South Coast, with the ‘living shoreline’ foreshore improvement works to follow.

“Around 1,700 square metres of intertidal Sydney Rock Oyster reef habitat will be restored, using locally quarried rock and local sterile oyster shells, where wild Sydney rock oyster spat will settle over time and form a natural reef,” Ms Thomson said.

“A further 1,000 square metres of subtidal Native Flat Oyster reef habitat will be created on the sea floor of the nearby ‘Deep Hole’.”

Simon Branigan, Operations Manager Oceans from The Nature Conservancy, said shellfish reefs are one of Australia’s most critically endangered marine ecosystems, but thankfully, can be saved from extinction.

“Restoring the oyster reef at Wagonga Inlet will be beneficial for both people and nature, by improving the water quality, providing marine life habitat, as well as providing an important natural defence for our coastline to reduce coastal erosion and damage from storms,” Mr Branigan said.

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