Oysters in the spotlight as DPI auctions leases

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
4 June 2007, at 1:00am

AUSTRALIA - Twenty-four oyster leases in some of New South Wales' cleanest water will be auctioned by the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) tomorrow. And its raked up consternation with environmentalists.

The leases are in the Hastings and Maria rivers, including some in Limeburners Creek, one of NSW state's only direct harvest areas.

They have reverted to the Crown because of abandonment or disuse and anyone who buys them would be responsible for cleaning up any old infrastructure, before they begin a new ventrue.

DPI aquaculture manager Ian Lyle says the auction is part of a plan to consolidate the state's useable oyster production areas. It is an integral policy within the NSW Government's Oyster Industry Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy, that was announced last year. Part of the strategy was to identify key areas for development and how business could be encouraged. These leases are part of that policy, says the DPI.

However, conservationists continue to raise concerns over aqauculture and its impact on south Austrailia's coastal environment. They say that problems with abandoned oyster leases on Yorke Peninsula are a good example of why the Environment Protection Authority, not Primary Industries, should police aquaculture activities.

Chris Ball from the State's Conservation Council says Primary Industries should not be responsible for policing aquaculture pollution because it promotes the industry without safeguarding the environemnt.

His group says that debris from the abandoned leases is the Yorke Peninsula area is considered a major pollution hazard and the DPI has done little to prevent it.