Press Release: Revive Our Gulf
The Revive Our Gulf project has released the first dramatic pictures of the recovery of mussel beds in the Hauraki Gulf.
They reveal a vibrant community of fishes and starfish living among the seven tonnes of supermarket destined green-lipped mussels laid as trial plots in December.
The Revive Our Gulf project aims to restore the sub-tidal green-lipped mussel beds that occurred on soft sediments throughout much of the Firth of Thames and Tamaki Strait. They were extensively dredged between 1910 and 1960, and the damaged and denuded areas did not recover, being replaced by barren muds.
The surplus mussels were donated by North Island Mussels Ltd and seven ‘living room’ size trial plots were created in a sheltered bay off eastern Waiheke Island. The group has partnered with the University of Auckland and two students are studying the trial plots regularly for their doctorate work. “Initial results are very encouraging,” said project research director Dr Shane Kelly. “The mussels have matted together and despite some expected predation by snapper and starfish, they are functioning as a reef. Fish like triplefins and spotties, starfish and invertebrates are colonising the beds and making it home, in stark contrast to the surrounding barren seafloor.”
Mussels are powerful filter feeders, a single mussel is capable of passing a bathtub of water a day through its gills. In their original, natural state they covered 500 sq kms and played a significant role in maintaining water quality and providing fish habitat in the Gulf.
Revive Our Gulf Chairman John Laurence said the group planned partnerships with mussel farms to utilise reject mussels for further field trials and initiatives to build awareness about the project’s potential. “Our vision is to prove a technology and then provide it to communities around the Gulf to enhance environmental quality.” Similar methods have been utilised overseas.
The project has received financial support to date from the Outboard Boating Club, the Hauraki Gulf Forum, Auckland Council and a range of private donors.