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Oyster Farmers Willing to Pay Cost Recovery

by 5m Editor
28 January 2009, at 12:00am

AUSTRALIA - Franklin Harbour oyster farmers have failed to garner support from the State Ombudsman in their quest to overturn new industry costs.

Last month, SA oyster growers were hit with new lease fees which have increased, on average, by around 450 per cent, reports Eyre Peninsula Tribune.

Local industry spokesmen have labelled the change in fees – based on the State Government’s new cost recovery scheme – as ‘unfair’ and warned that the new fees will cost local jobs.

SA growers as an industry moved to not pay the fees while they sought advice from the Ombudsman arguing that the new costs are disproportional to the industry’s capacity to pay.

This month, members of the SA Oyster Growers Association (SAOGA) were informed that the matter is outside the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction. Local growers are now seeking legal advice in relation to the new fee structure.

SAOGA president Bruce Zippel says the State Government must provide the industry with a break-down of the costs on which the new fee structure is based.

“We are willing to pay 100 per cent cost recovery, but the Minister has failed to show us just what PIRSA Aquaculture are trying to recover.”

Mr Zippel said a survey of SA growers has indicated that letters or requests for clarification of the fees, have, as yet received no reply.

Most growers have now also received overdue notices. SAOGA is encouraging growers who will be unable to pay to request, in writing, hardship provisions as reported by the Acting Executive Director of PIRSA Aquaculture.

Terry Rehn – a long-time Cowell oyster farmer and SA Oyster Growers Association (SAOGA) bay representative for Franklin Harbour – says the new fee structure will marginalise small operations and possibly force some local growers out of the industry.

For Franklin Harbour oyster growers, battling back after last year’s six-month bay closure which was prompted by high levels of pinnatoxin levels local waters.

A spokesperson for PIRSA Aquaculture said the new fee structure will be billed out, across the varied aquaculture industry, on a ‘per lease’ basis - in contrast to the previous ‘per hectare’ calculations.

5m Editor