A project to restore Port Stephens' oyster banks has yielded positive results with a sizeable increase in fish stocks reported around the new reefs.
More than a hectare of oyster bank was restored last summer as part of the state's first large-scale shellfish reef restoration project.
The build used 3,300 tonnes of rock and 180 cubic meters of recycled oyster shell from local oyster farmers to construct 10,000 square meters of inter-tidal oyster reef across two locations in Port Stephens estuary.
The reefs are located near the mouths of the Karuah and Myall Rivers.
Monitoring since the completion of the project has shown strong benefits for local water quality and marine biodiversity.
"In the first six months, more than 50 million oysters have recruited to the restored oyster reef," a Department of Primary Industries spokesman said.
"The young oysters are already filtering more than 400,000 litres of water per hour and increasing fish numbers have been recorded."
The project will be extended this summer.
It will be funded by the NSW Marine Estate Management Strategy and the federally funded Reef Builder program.
The most figures show the Port Stephens oyster industry has an annual turnover of about $13 million.
Port Stephens Shellfish Committee chairman Mark Hunter said the oyster bank restoration project would add to the recent momentum by improving water quality.
"It is still in the experimental stage but I think it will be a good thing; the overseas experience shows they have worked really well," he said.
"Artificial reefs have also worked well for the recreational fishing community."
NSW Department of Primary Industries fisheries manager Kirk Dahle said
Mr Dahle said the project would deliver a wide range of benefits to the health of the estuary and the marine life within the marine park
"Restoring oyster reefs is a fantastic way to improve the health of the estuary and marine park as oysters are natural water filters. The reefs will also create additional natural habitat for fish, crabs and other species to use," he said.
"The oyster reef restoration works will be highly visible over the construction period, if you are out and about on the water near the entrance to the Myall River or the Karuah River you are likely to see works taking place.
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