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Minister U-turn on Australian Oyster Fees

AUSTRALIA - The State Government will now phase in fee increases for oyster growers after Fisheries Minister Rory McEwen admitted he was wrong about the amount of fees paid by the industry last year.

Mr McEwen said last week grower claims that the State Government's new cost recovery model for aquaculture lease and licence fees would lead to 450 per cent average increase in oyster industry fees were incorrect, and they had only gone up by an average of 100 per cent, writes Billie Harrison for the Port Lincoln Times.

But, according to the news organisation, South Australian Oyster Grower's Association president Bruce Zippel challenged Mr McEwen's figures, saying the total fees paid by growers had been only $176,358 last year and an increase to $750,000 would definitely be more than 400 per cent.

Mr McEwen has this week admitted the figure he was using as the amount growers had paid in 2007/08 was wrong.

"(Mr Zippel) was right, I was wrong."

Mr McEwen has apologised to Mr Zippel and the industry and said he would cap the total fees collected this year at double last year's fees.

He said it was "unreasonable" to expect the oyster industry to go from a $176,358 contribution last year to a $750,000 contribution "in one fell swoop" so they would have to only pay half that this year and the State Government will have to make up the difference.

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the Fish Site Editor

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