The Federal Government will spend $1.8 million to establish five hectares of shellfish reefs in the Gippsland Lakes between Metung and Lakes Entrance to improve the health of the ecosystem, support local jobs and boost visitor numbers.
Local MP Darren Chester said the new habitat created for native flat oysters and native blue mussels would improve fishing and crabbing in areas popular with locals and visitors.
“The Gippsland Lakes are the jewels in our tourism crown,” Mr Chester said. “The Lakes are the Great Barrier Reef of the south in terms of their environmental, economic, social and cultural importance to our region.
“This is a significant investment in the health of the Lakes and an investment in local jobs, businesses and the visitor economy.
“The Gippsland Lakes project, which is due to be finished in 2022, is expected to support 12 to 14 local jobs, including people who’ll be creating the reefs and others working in local fishing, tackle and boat hire businesses.”
Gippsland is among 13 locations around Australia to share a $20 million investment in restoring native marine ecosystems, rejuvenating local fish stocks and creating attractive dive sites.
Shellfish reefs are created by attaching shellfish to recycled seashells and laying them over a limestone base on the seafloor or lake bed. The reefs become rich ecosystems that support fish and other marine species, and filter water.
The Gippsland project will involve East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority, traditional owners, Destination Gippsland, Lakes Entrance Fishing Club, local businesses and community members, and the State Government.
The funding comes from the Federal Government’s $61.7 million budget spend on environmental restoration and recovery measures through the $1 billion COVID Relief Fund.