A Hauraki Gulf enhanced with restored seabed mussel reefs, healthy ecosystems and a natural biodiversity of marine life.
We are raising funds to expand and spread our beds over the next three years. This money will be primarily spent on mussel stock and transport, but a small portion will used to fund research, monitoring and habitat surveys to optimise our efforts. If you want to see this happen please click here to donate.
Milestone report presented at marine sciences conference highlighting technical and regulatory obstacles. Listen on RadioNZ.
Around three and a half million live adult mussels have been deposited in a restoration area the size of eight rugby fields off eastern Waiheke Island. The additional 63 tonnes of mussels increase the restoration area ten-fold and were provided free of charge by North Island Mussels Ltd. Click here to read more.
The mussels have matted together over a once barren seafloor and been colonised by a range of marine species. “After some initial mortality and some expected predation by starfish and snapper, the remainder have survived really well". Click here for the before and after photo.
Seven tonnes of green-lipped mussels were deposited off eastern Waiheke Island in the past week and checks by divers have confirmed their successful positioning on bare seafloor. The project’s research director Shane Kelly said the mussels were dropped by mussel barge and form seven, dense, “living room” size plots within an embayment. “We will be looking to see if these beds attract spat and smaller mussels to form sustaining reefs.”
Auckland University in partnership with the Mussel Reef Restoration Trust have committed a PHD student (Mark Wilcox) and resources to research the re-establishment of the mussel beds. Mark is being supervised by Professor Andrew Jeffs from the Institute of Marine Science at the University and Dr Shane Kelly from the Trust. Mark's research will investigate mussel survival, and the effects of bed size on mussel colonisation and the development of marine communities within the beds.
The Mussel Reef Restoration Trust is constituted as a charitable trust and launches Revive our Gulf. The project aims to find ways to recreate lost mussel reefs, breathing life back into the Gulf through enhancing water quality, marine diversity and abundance.
The Mussel Reef Restoration Trust was initiated after a call for expressions of interest by Hauraki Gulf Forum Manager Tim Higham, when summing up at the Forum’s 2012 Charting the Enhancement Pathway seminar. This followed a presentation by NIWA’s Darren Parson on research which suggested the potential for restoring beds within their former range.
HISTORY OF THE REEFS
To supply hungry markets kiwi ingenuity led to mussels being farmed on ropes in the Gulf and other regions. In the right conditions mussels grow incredibly fast, going from finger-nail size to 10 cm 'supermarket' size in just a year. Mussels are filter feeders pumping water, phytoplankton (microscopic plants) and other particles through their gills. A single mussel can filter up to 350 litres of seawater daily
Photograph coutesy of QFSE Media
Poachers took over, diving on remaining reefs, particularly around Orere Point, to supply jars of fat, juicy mussels for pub raffles.
Photograph: Dredged mussels preserved in vinegar and packed in four-gallon cans for the domestic market, Coromandel Mussel Company, Auckland depot, early 1960s. Source: The Weekly News, 14 August 1963, courtesy Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hakena, University of Otago.
Fishery managers thought dredging might stimulate mussel growth and that reefs would recover if they were temporarily closed; if boats were licensed and their number restricted. But ripped up, damaged reefs did not rebuild and the seabed reverted to sand and mud, with new sediments being added from forest and land clearance.
Photograph by Jack Strongman, courtesy of the Strongman family.
Being so abundant it was thought the mussel reefs were inexhaustible. Commercial fishing begins with as many as eight boats towing two-to-three metre wide steel cages, to supply domestic markets, mainly Auckland.
Photograph: The mussel dredger Roa in the Firth of Thames. Source: From The Weekly News, 14 August 1963, courtesy Hocken Collections, Uare Taoka o Hakena, University of Otago.
Content courtesy of L.J. Paul. A history of the Firth of Thames dredge fishery for mussels: use and abuse of a coastal resource (2012)