Shellfish Reef Restoration

Shellfish reefs are invaluable for the vulnerable Cambodian marine environment. By restoring the reef, MCC not only protects biodiversity, but also the small-scale fishing communities who fish in a sustainable way.

If you are a funder interested in our full project concept and proposal, please feel free to contact us.

Restoring the shellfish reefs

Shellfish, or bivalves, sometimes grow in large numbers. They form reefs and beds at those hot spots.

Shellfish reefs protect the coastline, cycle the nutrients and filter the water. And most importantly, they provide habitat and food for other organisms.

Shellfish reefs were once abundant in the oceans, but coastal development, overharvesting and invasive species have led to dramatic decline.

Globally,

we have already lost 85% of our oyster reefs.

It is no different in Cambodia, where unsustainable harvesting and fishing methods have destroyed most of our reefs.

Because of the multi-functionality of shellfish reefs, its restoration is a significant step in revitalizing the marine environment.

In MCC’s pilot project, we received initial funding from the International conservation fund of Canada and placed artificial structures within the conservation area of Koh Ach Seh. The marine habitats there consist of shallow fringing reefs, seagrass, sand, shell and mud, with a maximum depth of 4m.

These structures provide substrate for the growth of shellfish like oysters and mussels, making them recover more quickly.

MCC has identified two key species for habitat restoration and potential commercialization: Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) and Asian green mussel (Perna viridis).

In particular, the Pacific oyster is a globally popular choice for aquaculture because of rapid growth and high tolerance to environmental stresses.

From reef to aquaculture

Since MCC’s restoration efforts began in December 2013, the intensity of illegal and destructive fishing techniques has lowered significantly. This is because the size and weight of the structures makes bottom trawling difficult. The floating buoys on the structure can also warn fishing vessels near the area.

Working with the marine law enforcement by local fisheries departments, we have improved fish diversity and abundance, as well as health of ecosystem health in general.

Currently, we are still looking for potential funders to expand the project.

A long-term project can be beneficial to both the environment and small-scale fishing communities, and sustainable aquaculture is an alternative to the currently unsustainable fishing practices.

If you are a funder interested in our full project concept and proposal, please feel free to contact us.