OYSTER growers from Eyre Peninsula and around the state will have annual fees for their oyster leases and licences waived for the next two years as part of a $2.6 million state government recovery package.
The oyster industry has been battling with a spat shortage since the outbreak of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome in Tasmania and the subsequent ban on the importation of spat and equipment from the state – where the industry typically received about 80 per cent of its spat.
Despite the establishment of two new oyster hatcheries on Eyre Peninsula spat has been in extremely short supply leading to substantial production and employment impacts for the industry.
Local oyster grower Simon Turner said the fee relief was “huge”.
”It’s an absolute huge win for the oyster growers in Cowell and the Upper Spencer Gulf,” Mr Turner said
“Any help is going to make a huge difference.
“The government has done an extremely good job.”
South Australian Oyster Grower’s Association (SAOGA) chairman Rob Kerin said the association welcomed the state government’s decision to provide fee relief to oyster lease and licence holders.
“The operational and financial assistance provided by the state government working closely with industry – including SAOGA, oyster growers and hatcheries – has saved our local industry from total disaster,” Mr Kerin said.
“We will continue working in partnership to ensure the industry emerges from this difficult time, thriving and more resilient than ever.”
Mr Turner thanked Mr Kerin for his effort to get this relief.
Fisheries Minister Leon Bignell said jobs were the number one priority and the money growers would save by not having to pay annual licence fees would help businesses remain viable.
Mr Bignell said the industry was now moving from “response phase to recovery phase” and it was anticipated it would be 18 months before the industry returned to normal levels of production again.
“These support measures...will help keep the industry afloat during this time while we work to build up local spat production and safeguard our industry,” Mr Bignell said.
“This is not going to be an overnight solution but we are committed to standing alongside our world-renowned oyster growers throughout this recovery process until they are back on their feet.”