Oyster reefs of Keppel Bay

Keppel oysters are among the finest in the world and a small-scale hand fishery still exists today [46, 47]

Keppel Bay once boasted magnificent oyster reefs and a substantial oyster industry. The oysters played an important part in water quality, filtering the water of impurities.

During the industry’s peak, from 1870 to 1920, juvenile oysters were collected, placed in sacks and loaded onto dinghies and then onto larger boats for transport to Moreton Bay, further south, where they were grown out for supply to the markets [48, 49].

Cultivated oyster bank, Moreton Bay, 1891. ©  William Saville-Kent.

By around 1923, the oyster reefs had been decimated by over-zealous harvesting to supply the Moreton Bay industry [50]. Despite a reduction in fishing, the oyster reefs of Keppel Bay have not recovered.

Only a concerted effort to rebuild them, and support for oyster farming rather than wild harvesting, will restore the once lucrative Keppel Bay oyster industry [51].

Rock oysters, Middle Island. © Alison Jones.