Exhibition shares the stories of oyster reefs across NSW

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Australian National Maritime Museum

A new exhibition developed by the Australian National Maritime Museum in collaboration with NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), Bidhiinja tells the forgotten history of oyster reefs in New South Wales and the work now underway to restore these important ecosystems.

Ms Daryl Karp AM, CEO and Director of the Australian National Maritime Museum said, ‘As an island nation that is shaped by sea these oyster reefs have played a pivotal role in the continent’s history. Working with the NSW Department of Primary Industries in telling the story about the re-establishment of these lost ecosystems, their historical cultural significance for Aboriginal communities, and of the benefits that healthy and robust reef habitats have for all of us has been a wonderful opportunity.’

Bidhiinja invites the audience to learn about the benefits that healthy oyster reefs provide to communities and the environment. See the future of our healthy Australian coasts in a beautiful exhibition combining First Nations knowledge, western science, and design, including work by exhibition artist and Yaegl woman Frances Belle Parker.

The augmented reality (AR) enabled exhibition allows you to bring an oyster reef to life across the panels, and interactives invite you to see what can be found in a midden, turn the wheel to see what a healthy ecosystem looks like, or open the door to explore the art and design of oyster shell.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Deputy Director General Fisheries Sean Sloan said ‘Oyster reefs hold significant cultural value and provide many important benefits for local communities and estuaries. Our coastlines have not always looked the way they do today. Oyster reefs were once a dominant part of our seascape. Globally, it is estimated that 85% of shellfish reefs have been lost – more than any other type of marine habitat. Oyster reefs are a rich and complex ecosystem and home to over 300 marine animals such as shrimp, crabs, clams, snails and worms, as well as many fish species.

‘Small wild oyster populations still exist, but most were overharvested during the early colonial period. Since that time, there has been limited natural recovery.’

The NSW Oyster Reef Restoration Project, led by the NSW Department of Primary Industries – Fisheries, is working with partners to reintroduce oyster reef habitats to the States’ estuaries and communities.

The Bidhiinja exhibition will travel across NSW in 2024/2025, to engage local communities in the stories of oyster reefs and restoration. This exciting collaboration between the NSW Department of Primary Industries and the Australian National Maritime Museum is proudly funded by the NSW Government through the Marine Estate Management Strategy, which aims to deliver a healthy coast and sea, managed for the greatest wellbeing of the community, now and into the future.

The exhibition will travel across NSW in 2024 and 2025, to engage local communities in the stories of oyster reefs and restoration. This exciting collaboration is proudly funded by the NSW Government through the Marine Estate Management Strategy, which aims to deliver a healthy coast and sea, managed for the greatest wellbeing of the community, now and into the future.

 

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