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Oyster Production in NSW and the OISAS

Oyster Production in NSWjaninerThu, 15/08/2013 - 8:39pm
Target Oyster Production in OISAS
Oyster Production in NSW

Oyster Production in NSW and the Oyster Industry Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy

Figures released by the Department of Primary Industries have indicated a significant downward trend in oyster production. The latest figures indicate that production is at its lowest point in over a decade.

In 2006, the government gazetted the NSW Oyster Industry Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy (OISAS). Along with improving the environmental performance of the industry and protecting the waterways from environmental damage from competing users, this Strategy was supposed to provide a framework to increase oyster production. It was hoped that production would increase to about 120,000 bags per annum (see purple column on NSW Oyster Production graph).  Parts of our waterways were excised as priority aquaculture zones to ensure that oyster farming was protected from competing land and water uses.

With production in 2011/2012 down to 47,658 bags, it appears that the measures taken as outlined in the OISAS have been unsuccessful. It is difficult to know for certain why production remains low, but factors could include changing consumer tastes, poor water quality, high rainfall, floods, disease, fuel price increases and the financial crash of 2007. Probably the predicted production figure was over optimistic.

In Port Stephens, production has not dropped in the last decade. It has mostly hovered around 9000 bags per annum. However, this production is well below the historic peak production of 43,130 bags in 1976/77 and also well below the historic 10 year moving average figure of 33,973 bags used in the OISAS to justify all the priority aquaculture areas in Port Stephens .

Whatever the cause of the low production, we now need to examine whether we really need all the priority zones in our waterways. Areas such as those off the North Arm Cove village where there has been little or no production for the last 20 years should be reassessed.


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