Marine Estate Management Authority


Recreational fishers are often described as the 'eyes and ears of our river systems'. With this intimate connection in mind, NSW DPI (Fisheries) wishes to invite recreational fishers to participate in this important survey.

Shellfish reefs, such as oyster reefs or mussel beds, are complex living structures which are made of dense aggregations of living shellfish and old shell. Shellfish reefs occur on soft sediments or rocky areas; as low-profile beds or as high-profile reefs in the intertidal zone or sub-tidally, in deeper water.

Natural shellfish reefs provide a wide range of benefits to our waterways and to coastal communities including:
  • provision of food and shelter for fish and other marine creatures
  • enhancing water quality by filtering and cleaning water
  • protecting shorelines from wave erosion and supporting seagrass growth.

Sadly these benefits have largely been lost.  A combination of impacts including over-harvesting, disease, foreshore reclamation and smothering with sediments from run-off has led to the wide-spread loss of shellfish reefs including natural oyster reefs.

Shellfish reefs do still exist in some bays and estuaries today, albeit at lower densities. Please see examples of different shellfish reef types which still occur in NSW waters today on the next page. 
Thank you for agreeing to take part in this important survey. Your ideas and input will help us plan for the restoration of oyster reefs, and other shellfish reefs, across the NSW marine estate.
Through this survey we are aiming to:
  • Gauge the NSW recreational fishing community's knowledge of natural shellfish reefs and shellfish reef restoration;
  • Determine the level of recreational fisher support for future shellfish reef restoration projects in NSW; and
  • Build a more complete picture of where shellfish reefs, primarily oyster reefs and mussel beds, are still located. 

The survey should only take 8-10 minutes to complete. We value your input and appreciate that information you provide may be of a private or personal nature. The details of the comments and feedback provided in the survey will be confidential. At no time will information collected as part of the process be used to identify you publicly. Information will be securely stored by NSW DPI, and individual responses will not be disclosed to third parties.

If you have any questions about this survey or technical issues please contact:

Charlotte Jenkins via email at or phone 0407 154 320 or
Jillian Keating via email at or phone 02 4478 9104 or 0427 129 506

Please feel free to pass on our contact details to anyone else you think we should talk to about oyster, or other shellfish, reefs.

This survey is an important activity under the NSW Marine Estate Management Strategy. This 10 year Strategy aims to assist the NSW Government in achieving its broad vision for the NSW marine estate: A healthy coast and sea, managed for the greatest wellbeing of the community, now and into the future.