Cowell hatchery sends out first spat

DELIVERIES: Eyre Shellfish operations manager Gordon Gardner with a box of oyster spat ready to go out to growers across the state.
DELIVERIES: Eyre Shellfish operations manager Gordon Gardner with a box of oyster spat ready to go out to growers across the state.

The new Eyre Shellfish hatchery in Cowell has started sending out much-needed oyster spat to growers throughout South Australia.

Eyre Shellfish operations manager Gordon Gardner said the hatchery, which was set up after a breakout of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) in Tasmania in 2016 limited South Australian spat supplies, started sending out spat at the end of December.

“So far we’ve sent out 10 million oysters since the end of December,” Mr Gardner said.

“The spat have been of the five-millimetre plus size and have gone out to every growing region except Kangaroo Island.

“We fill up foam boxes with spat and chiller packs in the morning and ship them out on overnight freight.”

The hatchery’s spat is in high demand but Mr Gardner said this was “just the start”.

“It will be another two years before the oyster industry gets consistent orders,” he said.

“And another three years before they start to see a profit.”

The Eyre Shellfish hatchery is still under construction.

“We have now finished our broodstock rooms and we’re about to start construction on our second set of raceway,” Mr Gardner said.

The POMS outbreak in Tasmania in 2016 caused concern for Eyre Peninsula oyster growers, with 90 per cent of spat coming into South Australia coming from the region.

Tasmania’s Shellfish Culture invested in the Cowell hatchery, which only started construction in early 2017, to provide a long-term solution for the spat shortage.

Eyre Shellfish is working toward being completely biosecure to avoid a POMS breakout in the region.

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