Australian oyster industry under threat

Canberra: A shortage of baby oysters is putting South Australia’s oyster industry worth A$32 million ($23 million) under threat, an official said on Monday.

A devastating outbreak of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) in 2016 ended supply from Tasmania to South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula, west of Adelaide, reports Xinhua news agency.

South Australia Oyster Growers Association executive officer, Trudy McGowan, said some businesses would likely not survive the shortage.

“Our industry has never been through anything like this before,” McGowan said, despite a report that declared the region free of POMS in April 2018.

However, McGowan did point to “really good support from the government with the waiving of our lease and licence fees for two years,” in a glimmer of hope.

Yorke Peninsula oyster grower Steve Bowley said he had lost 80 per cent of his business revenue due to a lack of baby oysters — known in the industry as “spat”.

Bowley has grown just one million oysters a year over the past two years, four million short of previous levels.