Recycling oyster shells in state first plan

HELPING HANDS: Jy Raleigh, Jamie Diggles and Harvey Sheppard show that oyster recycling is something the entire community can get behind
HELPING HANDS: Jy Raleigh, Jamie Diggles and Harvey Sheppard show that oyster recycling is something the entire community can get behind Contributed

MORETON BAY region is set to become home to Queensland's first shell recycling program.

Bribie residents can now drop off oyster shells at Savige's Seafood, Sylvan Beach Seafood Cafe or the Sandstone Point Hotel, as well as directly to the recycling centre at Ningi Transfer Station.

Marine biologist and project manager Ben Diggles is working with local restaurants to help roll out the project.

This new plan aims to decrease and possibly eliminate the threat of transferring pacific oyster mortality syndrome into the region's shellfish populations.

Dr Diggles said it was a highly contagious herpes-like virus that could infect not only oysters but also scallops, clams and mussels.

"The virus multiplies and causes mass mortalities once water temperatures increase above 20 degrees from winter lows,” he said.

Dr Diggles said the oyster shell recycling program was the only way to remove the threat of the virus.

"They are dried out first in the sun and rain for a couple of months, which kills off any diseases or pests that may be on or in the shells,” he said.

"They will then be pressure-washed with fresh water to clean them before being bagged and readied for placement back into the water.”

Dr Diggles said the help of local residents was critical.

"Through shell recycling, everyone can contribute to restoration of a critical missing link in the local marine environment,” he said.

"The more people who help, the faster we can accumulate shells for reef substrate and the sooner we can get started with actual restoration.

"Each oyster shell recycled and placed back into the water at an appropriate location at the right time of year can form a new home for up to 10 new baby oysters.”

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