WORK: University of the Sunshine Coast researchers install oyster reefs in the Noosa River.
WORK: University of the Sunshine Coast researchers install oyster reefs in the Noosa River. University of the Sunshine Coast

Oyster project a key example

A SMORGASBORD of oysters and prawns may flourish in Noosa River sooner rather than later as part of Noosa Parks Association's Bring Back the Fish project.

Since 2014, the association has been working closely with scientists, the Thomas Foundation and University of the Sunshine Coast to introduce more fish species into the estuary.

When initial research into oyster population in Noosa was conducted, it found less than 3.5 per cent of historical reefs were left.

At last week's Friday Forum, NPA contract scientist Dr Simon Walker spoke on the project's progress.

"Baby oysters in the Noosa estuary are plentiful,” Dr Walker said.

"The university is currently monitoring and measuring the reefs which have been in for almost a year now.”

FISH TRACKS: The Noosa River's fish map sites as identified by the USC Bring back the Fish researchers. .
FISH TRACKS: The Noosa River's fish map sites as identified by the USC Bring back the Fish researchers. . Contribited

In late 2017, USC conducted a review into the oyster 'sausages' placed in areas along the Noosa River, which showed positive results.

"We are starting to really understand the substantial changes that have occurred in the Noosa system,” Dr Walker said.

Now, it is hoped Bring Back the Fish will create a base for similar projects in Australia.

"It's a hugely exciting project. It's ground- breaking,” Dr Walker said.

"We hope what we are doing here will become a toolbox to roll out across other estuaries.”

Fish population in the Noosa River is not the mecca it once was decades ago, but since the project's implementation, more species like bream and young snapper should populate.

"Oyster reefs create great places for fish to live and create great places to lay eggs,” he said.

"They really become like the lungs of the estuary.

"Noosa is now well and truly part of a global push for restoration of what is recognised as a threatened habitat.”

Along Noosa River, clear signage shows where these oyster sausages are with monitoring of their success continuing.

Bring Back the Fish project is also working on keeping sediment run off in Kin Kin and looking at the status of other key estuary species such as prawns.

"Hopefully this can put ourselves on the trajectory for a better future or a more resilient future.”

Monitoring the sites is ongoing.