Shellfish reef projects

Shellfish reef habitats were once common along sheltered nearshore areas of South Australia. However, due to overexploitation, native angasi oyster reefs have been near absent from South Australian waters since the early 20th century.

The Government of South Australia, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, local councils, Adelaide University and the local community have worked together to create three shellfish reef restoration sites in Gulf St Vincent. This will aid in the recovery of South Australia’s most endangered marine ecosystem, while also supporting recreational fishing and regional communities.

These reefs are important to the health of the marine environment. Similar to coral reefs, shellfish reefs provide homes for many marine species, while also helping to improve water quality through the natural process of filter feeding.

The native angasi oysters used for the reefs were hatchery reared at the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI). When the oyster spat had successfully settled onto recycled pacific oyster shells in the hatchery, they were then ‘seeded’ on to the limestone reef constructions. It takes about two years for the oysters to mature and then they will reproduce and contribute to the angasi oyster population on the reef naturally.

All three shellfish reefs will be monitored by a number of agencies to track their progress.

Shellfish reef projects

Construction of the Windara reef off Rogues Point.


The Windara shellfish reef development was completed in 2018. Located off Rogues Point near Ardrossan in the Upper Gulf St. Vincent Marine Park, the reef is made of 10,000 tonnes of limestone arranged into 159 reef segments across 20 hectares (an area the size of 11 Adelaide Ovals).

Windara is the Narungga name that was chosen for the reef in recognition of the local Aboriginal peoples’ connection with sea country. The name refers to the eastern area of the Yorke Peninsula region where the reef is located.

Windara Reef is open for recreational fishing, boating and diving. The reef now has a population of both seeded and wild angasi oysters and is providing new habitat for a number of plant and animal species.

Shellfish reef projects

Baited underwater Video System footage of King George whiting feeding between reef segments at Windara.

For more information and GPS coordinates of the reef visit PIRSA, The Nature Conservatory and Yorke Peninsula tourism.


Completed in October 2021, The Glenelg Shellfish Reef is a low-profile native oyster reef in approximately seven metres of water and about one kilometre offshore. It covers an area of five hectares. Like Windara, the reef is constructed from a limestone rock base and has been seeded with hatchery raised native flat oysters. The reef located in Glenelg is an ideal site within Encounter Marine Park, offering suitable environmental conditions, low wave energy and close proximity to known historic native shellfish beds.

There is a temporary fishing ban in place until December 2022 after which, the reef will be open for fishing and diving.

For more information and GPS points of the reef visit the PIRSA website.

O’Sullivan Beach

O’Sullivan Beach reef, constructed in November 2021 is the newest of the metropolitan shellfish reefs. This shellfish reef covers a five-hectare area and sits about 500 metres offshore.

O’Sullivan Beach was chosen as a metropolitan shellfish reef as the site offers suitable environmental conditions with good opportunities for colonisation of marine species from the nearby rocky reefs of the Encounter Marine Park.

There is a temporary fishing ban in place until December 2022 after which, the reef will be open for fishing and diving.

For more information and GPS points of the reef visit the PIRSA website.