Plans to build Yorke Peninsula artificial reef had Narooma anglers talking

Plans to build a large artificial reef off the Yorke Peninsula, South Australia has anglers and divers around Narooma talking and wishing for the same thing.

The NSW Government meanwhile has already installed an offshore artificial reef on the South Coast, located about four kilometres offshore from Shoalhaven Heads, or about six kilometres from Crookhaven Heads. Read more

The construction of the new Shoalhaven offshore artificial reef was completed in mid-January 2015, with 20 specially designed huge concrete artificial reef modules successfully lowered from a barge 30 metes to the sea floor, 4km east of Shoalhaven Heads. Each module stands 5 m high and weighs in excess of 20 tonnes.

Shoalhaven Reef

Club Narooma fishing club president Dave Clarke has lobbied for artificial reefs at Narooma for many years and suggests a spot south of the Dalmeny Headland. 

“I had all that mapped for the recreational fishing trust and the DPI guidelines for a artificial reef the best spot was south of Dalmeny Headland in 50 metres on another old reef that was destroyed by the commercial netters years ago – I even had the green light from MP.”

Local Narooma fisherman and diver Jonathon Poyner suggested an ideal spot for a Narooma artificial reef would be south of Montague Island, inside the pinnacle where the water drops rapidly down to 60m, that way it's close for Bermagui and Narooma boats.

“Stick a couple of small wrecks out from Yakka Bay where it's sheltered from the strong currents and you've got the divers covered too,” Mr Poyner said.

Back in South Australia and according to Primary Industries and Regions SA, additional funding for South Australia’s first artificial oyster reef will see new job opportunities and economic benefits for the Yorke Peninsula region through fishing and tourism.

Construction of the oyster reef between Stansbury and Ardrossan has been considerably boosted after winning $900,000 funding in Round 3 of the National Stronger Region Fund.

This funding builds on an existing commitment from The Nature Conservancy of $1.4 million, funds from Yorke Peninsula Council, and the State Government’s 2014 $600,000 election commitment to boost recreational fishing and tourism opportunities.

Prior to European settlement shellfish reefs covered 1500 kilometres of the SA coastline. Australia has lost 99 per cent of native shellfish reefs and globally an estimated 85 percent of oyster reefs have been lost, making them the most threatened marine habitat in the world.

The State Government and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) have worked together developing the long-term strategy for improving South Australia’s marine habitats. PIRSA are leading the project on behalf of State Government in collaboration with DEWNR and TNC.

TNC is a global leader in delivering large-scale marine habitat restoration, in particular through nearly two decades of pioneering work in the United States.

SA Environment Minister Ian Hunter said, “This is the largest reef restoration project outside the United States and places an international spotlight on South Australia. Shellfish reef habitats are important to the quality of the marine environment, and provide vital habitat for important fish species and marine life. Once its full fishing potential is realised, the reef will reel in recreational fishers and create further tourism and economic prospects for this top South Australian fishing destination.”

SA Fisheries Minister Leon Bignell said; “Each year more than 277,000 men, women and children take part in recreational fishing across South Australia and this oyster reef is a part of the State Government’s $3.25 million commitment to enhance recreational fishing experiences. The reef will support eastern Yorke Peninsula as a fishing hot-spot for species including whiting, snapper, mullet, garfish, snook, crab and flathead. This multi-agency funding partnership will help ensure that works kicks off soon to build Australia’s largest artificial shellfish reef.”