Capitalising on the ongoing success of The Nature Conservancy’s shellfish reef restoration projects all around the world, a new manual has been published to help others do likewise. Quantifying the social and ecological benefits of shellfish reefs has been a foundational component of Mapping Ocean Wealth, leading to the creation of the Oyster Calculator and other guidance on restoration monitoring.

The new Restoration Guidelines for Shellfish Reefs were released at the Society for Ecological Restoration conference in Cape Town, South Africa in September 2019, and are aimed at restoration practitioners, ocean managers and community members who want to bring back lost shellfish reefs and the benefits they convey. Dr. Simon Branigan, Marine Restoration Coordinator for TNC Australia and an Editor of the new guide, noted that “We provide guidance on how to establish shellfish reefs (oyster and mussel reefs) from the start to the finish, and give examples of different approaches used by experienced practitioners in a variety of geographic, environmental and social settings.”

The guidelines are an update of a 2006 Guide that was aimed primarily at informing shellfish restoration in North America. The new Guidelines reflect new lessons and insights gained from a constellation of projects undertaken in Australia, Asia, North and Central America, the United Kingdom and Europe over the past 13 years. Another key improvement is alignment to the Society for Ecological Restoration’s International Standards. They were developed by a global team of writers and editors from The Nature Conservancy, academic institutions and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Shellfish restoration is something that brings communities together to tackle not just the lack of shellfish, but also the overarching issues that pose challenges to ocean health. And this brings into focus the importance of ocean health for returning the benefits that we’ve often taken for granted”, said Dr. Boze Hancock, Restoration Director for The Nature Conservancy, adding that “The guidelines help people understand how to get started and how to design restoration to deliver the cleaner water, protected shorelines and larger numbers of fish that restored shellfish reefs bring.”

The guidelines were supported by the China Global Conservation Fund, a global initiative primarily financed by The Nature Conservancy’s China Board of Trustees.

For a copy of the Guide, visit