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Australian Government Addresses Critical Shortage of Pacific Oyster Spat

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AUSTRALIA - The State Government and industry are working together to ensure the continual supply of juvenile Pacific Oysters and help safeguard South Australias $32 million a year industry.

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Locally produced juvenile oysters (spat) have begun distribution to oyster growers from two Eyre Peninsula based hatcheries – Kellidie Bay Hatchery and Sustainable Aquatic Industries – and the State Government’s South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI).

The move is in response to a critical shortage of Pacific Oyster spat in South Australia following the February outbreak of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) in Tasmania.

South Australia is the only oyster growing state to remain POMS free. POMS causes rapid and high mortalities in farmed Pacific Oysters, up to 100 per cent within days of being detected, and can spread quickly once introduced.

South Australian growers previously relied heavily on Tasmania for the supply of spat, which was halted following the POMS outbreak.

Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) has been working with the South Australian Oyster Growers Association (SAOGA) and local growers to address the risk of POMS and ensure a boosted local supply of spat.

PIRSA has also fast-tracked the granting of new land-based licences for two new oyster hatcheries to establish in South Australia – Eyre Shellfish and Cameron of Tasmania – both companies who were previously based in Tasmania but due to the outbreak of POMS are also establishing operations in SA, one of which will be located in the Lincoln Marine Science Centre.

PIRSA Director Fisheries & Aquaculture Policy, Sean Sloan, commented: "This is a great example of the State Government and industry working together to effectively ensure Pacific Oyster spat supply for our local industry.

"The State Government provided additional funding in May to the two Eyre Peninsula hatcheries to up-scale their production of spat, along with assisting in establishing a further two hatcheries to increase supply to local oyster farmers.

"Also, by enabling SARDI to increase production of spat, it not only boosts production and confidence for local oyster growers, it also provides ongoing protection against POMS and a further safeguard for our oyster industry.

"SARDI have modified their Research and Development facility at West Beach to fit the requirement of large scale Pacific Oyster spat production.

"I congratulate all involved in coming together to help secure production and job security for our oyster farmers to allow them to continue to produce premium Pacific Oysters in
the pristine waters of the state."

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