‘Modern midden’ helping to restore Pumicestone Passage

12 July 2017

Modern maiden

Lost shellfish reefs in Pumicestone Passage are one step closer to being restored after Queensland’s first oyster recycling station was officially opened today at Ningi, the town named after the Aboriginal word for oyster.

Local marine biologist Dr Ben Diggles opened the recycling station, described as a ‘modern midden’, together with Moreton Bay Regional Council’s Mayor Allan Sutherland and local councillor Brooke Savige, state member for Pumicestone Rick Williams MP and Leisha Krause from the local Joondoburri tribe.

Dr Ben Diggles spearheaded the project as part of the local Restore Pumicestone Passage program and said the recycling station would become the central location to properly treat shells for disease and pests before being used to rebuild shellfish reefs on the passage.

“Oyster shells are the best substrate to rebuild shellfish reefs, and with the new recycling station, people will be able to drop off waste oyster shells so we can collect and treat them before putting them into new reefs,” Dr Diggles said.

“Based on what we’ve seen overseas, we expect up to 10 baby oysters for every oyster shell recycled and placed back into the passage.

“Shellfish reefs have, in the past, been an important resource in terms of food and shelter for local marine life and for filtering water in Pumicestone Passage and Moreton Bay.

“A community project like the oyster recycling station is a really practical and productive way to help rebuild those shellfish reefs and combat the present shift in the bay towards more algae and jellyfish.”

Moreton Bay Regional Council earlier this year leased a 600m2 parcel of land at its Ningi Transfer Station to establish the station and assisted with the provision of a storage facility and water tank.

Mayor Allan Sutherland said the oyster recycling station would become a valuable tool in helping to preserve Pumicestone Passage, which recently improved from a C+ in 2014 to a B+ in 2016 in the Healthy Waterways Report Card.

“As someone who grew up recreationally fishing on Moreton Bay, it’s great to see the Ningi oyster recycling station finally up and running, and for council to lend its support,” Mayor Sutherland said.

“When the idea came up several months ago, the councillors and I were more than happy to lease part of council’s waste station at Ningi to Dr Diggles so used oyster shells could eventually be placed into the passage and flourish.

“It’s a brilliant example of how everyone in the community, from council and scientists to residents and businesses, is working together to help preserve our local waterways.”

Leisha Krause from the local Joondoburri tribe said the recycling station was a modern version of the traditional shell midden - a place where Aboriginal people would deposit used oyster shells and other food over time.

“Oysters were an important food source for our ancestors and the phrase ‘Ningi Ningi’ means plenty of oysters in our language, so it’s very fitting that shells collected at the Ningi Transfer Station will be used to restore oyster reefs in passage,” Ms Krause said.

“Rebuilding local oyster reefs is a great idea. It encourages people to take more interest in the heritage and health of our precious Pumicestone Passage.”

Local Councillor Brooke Savige said a number of local restaurants had already volunteered to recycle their oyster shells at the station.

“We now have a place where locals, businesses and visitors to Bribie can easily drop off their shells for Dr Diggles and his dedicated volunteers to collect, treat and place back into Pumicestone Passage,” Cr Savige said.

“It’s a fantastic initiative council is proud to support that builds on the success of previous projects in our area like the oyster gardening program, which encouraged home owners to grow their own oyster gardens in local canals.”

People looking to recycle their shells can do so during the Ningi Transfer Station’s opening hours.

The Ningi Transfer Station is located at 1532 Bribie Island Road, Ningi and is open Thursday to Tuesday (closed Wednesday) from 7.00am until 5.00pm from April to September and from 7.00am to 6.00pm from October to March.

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