Oyster future put forward

South Australia’s oyster growers have heard about battling against Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) and the latest research and development updates at the 2018 South Australia Oyster Industry Seminar last week.

Hosted at Smoky Bay, about 100 participants attended the three-day event and heard from local and interstate oyster growers, researchers and others working within the oyster industry.

Topics ranged from how Tasmanian growers have been dealing with POMS to updates on local hatcheries, research and studies, and a new app to help oyster growers.

South Australian Oyster Growers Association executive officer Trudy McGowan said the seminar presented useful information for South Australian oyster growers.

“POMS was the main topic, we heard interesting things from Tasmania and how we can learn from that in South Australia,” she said.

“Another topic was the ‘Mishell’ app which is being launched and is a stock management tool which will allow growers to enter data on stock and will note where stock has come from so if there is an issue with disease we can trace movement.”

Ms McGowan said the industry was bracing itself for hardships brought upon by the outbreak of POMS to continue until 2020.

“We expected reasonable spat over the 2017-18 spring and summer but that didn’t come through, so we hope to get a good lot this summer, but it will be difficult until 2020,” she said.

“Growers are doing different things to get through, some are doing other work on the side or reducing costs, and waiving lease fees has helped.”

Simon Turner said his Turner’s Oyster Farm at Cowell was down about 50 per cent from usual production.

“I have been oyster farming for 27 years and this is certainly the toughest period – it is a frustrating period, financially and mentally hard,” he said.

“There is enough on the farm to keep the doors open, but it is a battle to keep up staff and morale.

“It is encouraging to hear hatchery stories and get an update on where the industry is, it gives you hope because we did have time to prepare.”

POMS did reach South Australia earlier this year when it was detected in the Port River, however the disease did not spread to other regions.

SAOGA president Rob Kerin believes the industry will come out of this downturn stronger.

“When we come out of it we will be more resilient than before and be self-reliant hatchery-wise, which will give us reassurances if borders need to be closed that we have supply.”