Standard Presentation (15 mins) Australian Marine Sciences Association 2022

Technology and Tea – a modern, meets timeless means of inspiring citizen scientists to reconnect with and restore our lost shellfish reefs (#110)

Jillian Keating 1 , Charlotte Jenkins 2 , Kylie Russell 3 , Victoria Cole 3
  1. NSW Department of Primary Industries - Fisheries, Batemans Bay, NSW, Australia
  2. NSW Department of Primary Industries - Fisheries, Byron Bay, NSW, Australia
  3. NSW Department of Primary Industries - Fisheries, Port Stephens, NSW, Australia

New South Wales (NSW) estuaries historically supported vast natural shellfish reefs which provided a range of ecosystem services and held significant cultural value for coastal Aboriginal people. Within 100 years of European arrival, most reefs had been decimated by anthropogenic impacts. With few natural reefs remaining today, they have become part of our forgotten history. Momentum for shellfish reef restoration is building in NSW, however, several barriers to restoration are clear including significant knowledge gaps. Since 2018 the NSW Department of Primary Industries Oyster Reef Restoration Project (a NSW Marine Estate Management Strategy program) has been working with partners to reconnect coastal communities with shellfish reefs and inspire involvement in the restoration of this long-forgotten ecosystem. An extensive and innovative suite of citizen science tools and engagement efforts has been delivered with the Aboriginal community, the oyster industry, recreational fishers, environmental groups, and the broader community. Activities to date include digital citizen science tools, creation of specialised online content, face-to-face targeted surveys, a landmark citizen science shellfish reef restoration monitoring and evaluation program, historical research, and the use of art and culture to weave the cultural values of shellfish reefs into their rich story via community events, exhibits and workshops.