Mussel restoration on agenda

The Mahurangi Harbour is playing a part in an ambitious plan to restore the mussel beds of the Hauraki Gulf.

Marine scientist Dr Andrew Jeffs, who is involved in the project, will be the guest speaker at the Warkworth Town Hall talk on Wednesday, August 8.

It is estimated that mussels once carpeted more than 500 square kilometres of seabed in the Firth of Thames and had the ability to filter the total amount of water in the gulf every two days.

But, the mussels were over-fished by boats that dredged the seafloor, annihilating the beds beyond recovery.

Dr Jeffs says the loss of these massive mussel beds has altered the fundamental way the Hauraki Gulf functions as an ecosystem.

“It is probably no coincidence that a number of key fish populations such as snapper, went into decline around the time of the removal of these mussels from the gulf,” he says.

Over the past six years, 130 tonnes of green-lipped mussels have been deployed and scientists are monitoring how they are re-establishing and changes in the water health.

While Dr Jeffs admits that the scale of the job ahead is huge, the work could be the key to rejuvenating the gulf and making it safer for other fish.

“NZ loses around 250 millions of soil to the sea each year, which is having a devastating affect on marine habitats. Alongside the work we’re doing in the sea, we need to be implementing better land management practices.”

Doors open for refreshments at 5pm, talk starts at 5.30pm.