Historical abundance and distribution of the native flat oyster, Ostrea angasi, in estuaries of the Great Southern region of Western Australia help to prioritise potential sites for current oyster reef restoration.

Peter A. Cook, Bryn Warnock, Chris L. Gillies, Alex Hams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Reefs of the flat oyster (Ostrea angasi) were once common along the southern coasts of Australia. Historical and current literature relating to O. angasi was used to identify bays and estuaries where this species once existed. In many estuaries of Western Australia, current populations are significantly lower than historical levels, including in Princess Royal Harbour and Oyster Harbour, near Albany. The main causes of the declines included overfishing, combined with the use of destructive fishing methods, such as dredging. Other factors, such as sedimentation, increased nutrient input and loss of seagrass, may have contributed to the loss of oyster reefs, and may have inhibited effective recovery. The possible impact of the protozoan pathogen Bonamia exitiosa is uncertain, although it is known to have severely affected flat oyster populations in other parts of the world. The fact that O. angasi reefs in Oyster Harbour did not recover after the fishery ceased suggests that restoration activities, aimed at restarting the ecosystem services that the oyster reefs once provided, should be undertaken. This paper suggests that the historical presence of O. angasi could be an effective starting point for prioritising potential restoration sites and details the prioritisation protocol that was used in recent restoration activities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-56
JournalMarine and Freshwater Research
Volume73
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Oct 2021

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