South Australia’s oyster industry on the mend

The South Australian oyster industry is a step closer to recovery, no longer needing government supplied juvenile oysters (spat) now and able to rely on spat produced by four commercial Eyre Peninsula suppliers.

Three years ago the SA oyster industry was affected by a severe spat supply shortage due to an outbreak of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) in Tasmania. To reduce the risk of spreading to our oyster growing regions, there was a ban on South Australian growers importing Pacific Oyster spat from Tasmania, where more than 80 per cent of spat was previously sourced.

SA’s minister for primary industries and regional development Tim Whetstone praised the efforts of growers and Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) in working together to address the challenges associated with the spat supply shortage.

“This is a significant milestone for the oyster farming industry. I praise the efforts of growers and PIRSA in working together to address the challenges associated with the spat supply shortage,” said Whetstone.

“Over the past three years, PIRSA’s research division SARDI has produced 106.5 million spat for the state’s Pacific Oyster aquaculture industry – 30 million, 34 million and 42.5 million in 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19, respectively.

Whetstone said the state government had continued to work to reduce the feral oyster population and associated POMS viral load in Port River through targeted cull of oysters.

“There is still work to do and we remain committed to supporting our oyster growers and the many associated regional jobs to recover and to unlock new opportunities,” he said.

The  industry-SARDI research partnership will be built on through a breeding program to produce POMS resistant oysters which Whetstone would help “future-proof” the industry.

“SARDI has already produced 126 Pacific Oyster families under the Australian Seafood Industries selective breeding program and an additional 31 families are currently under development which will become the founding population of a selective breeding program,” Whetsone said.

SA Oyster Growers Association executive officer Trudy McGowan praised PIRSA for their efforts to boost spat production in the wake of the spat shortage faced by the industry.

“This assistance has been vital in ensuring the long-term viability of the South Australian oyster farming industry,” said McGowan.

“We are pleased to be in a position where we are confident in the strong production results we are seeing from our local hatcheries and optimistic that we are now on track to a healthy recovery.”