A hundred years ago, the waters of the Haruaki Gulf were clear and full of marine life, today marine scientists say that it is in a ‘biodiversity crisis’.
Experts say fixing the Gulf will need a combination of more marine protected areas to allow natural recovery along with work on active restoration of certain key species. One of these is the humble green-lipped mussel – yes, the kind you get from your local supermarket!
The inner Hauraki Gulf once had over 600km^2 of sub-tidal mussel reefs - about 80,000 rugby fields worth! All dredged out for local consumption before 1965.
Revive Our Gulf project is a combined effort from the University of Auckland, The Nature Conservancy NZ and the Mussel Reef Restoration Trust (MRRT) working with industry partners and different iwi groups across the Gulf. So far over 222 tonnes of mussels have been placed in test beds from Mahurangi to Ōkahu Bay and east of Waiheke.
“Mussels filter the water and provide habitat and food for marine life.”, explains Peter Miles from MRRT, “You bring them back and everything else follows”. Miles explains that the work to date has been on experimental beds that support the research effort.
It might take years to “re-mussel the Gulf” but Revive Our Gulf are on to it.
Councillor Desley Simpson who has been following the project closely adds that It is incredible to think that the answer for improving the water quality in the gulf can be achieved through mussel beds, one of nature’s most effective water filters. It is also important to acknowledge the many levels of leadership behind this project from government and iwi, through to Council, local boards and community groups “
Visit www.reviveourgulf.org.nz for more information on the project and follow progress.