South Australia's oyster industry is optimistic for the long term future of the local industry, more than a year after it was affected by the outbreak of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) in Tasmania.
The Tasmanian outbreak led to a ban on South Australian growers importing Pacific Oyster spat from Tasmania, where more than 80 per cent of spat was previously sourced creating the issue of spat supply shortage.
While the ban resulted in the creation and expansion of the state's own oyster hatcheries to supply locally produced spat to SA's oyster growers, the industry still faces a difficult 12-18 months while local hatcheries establish and increase spat production.
Over the past year existing South Australian hatcheries, Sustainable Aquatic Industries and EP Shellfish at Kellidie Bay, have ramped up spat production to help meet industry demand, employing an additional five people and producing more than 50 million spat over the last 12 months.
Two Tasmanian hatcheries - Cameron's and EP Shellfish Culture - are establishing new operations on the Eyre Peninsula, creating more than 10 full time positions.
The State Government's South Australia Research and Development Institute (SARDI) has also rallied to industry's side, producing 30 million spat to date and plans for future spat production to focus on developing a POMS-resistant oyster strain.
The increase in the state's own oyster hatcheries is setting the industry up to not only be self-sufficient but to be a leader in oyster production in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere.
The Tasmanian ban has also recently been extended until 31 March 2018 as a vital measure to protect the South Australian oyster aquaculture industry and maintain our POMS free status.
Quotes attributable to PIRSA Fisheries & Aquaculture Director Policy, Sean Sloan
It is great to see the South Australian oyster industry respond and expand to help cover the spat supply shortage since the detection of POMS in Tasmania last year.
The creation of more hatcheries jobs in our regional communities brings a welcomed boost and the fact that South Australia is the last oyster growing state in Australia to remain POMS free, highlights the strength and rigour of our biosecurity systems.
South Australia's oyster growing industry supports more than 240 jobs and injects $32 million into our state economy, and the State Government, through the work of PIRSA, remains committed to protecting and supporting industry in its recovery.
Quotes attributable to South Australia Oyster Growers Association Chief Executive, Trudy McGowan
We are pleased with the development of South Australian hatcheries as they continue to establish and produce spat for growers.
While we are not at the level of production we were at prior to the POMS outbreak in Tasmania, we are moving in the right direction towards getting back on track over the next couple of years.
The industry has faced very challenging and difficult times and we will continue to do so in the short term, but we will survive and long term our industry will be better and stronger.
We are especially thankful that South Australia remains a POMS free state and that our growers and the jobs and livelihoods the industry supports have largely remained protected.
In 2016, the State Government provided almost $500,000 in funding and deployed more than 20 PIRSA staff to the South Australian response to POMS and for emergency assistance to help boost local Pacific Oyster spat production.
For more information visit www.pir.sa.gov.au/aquaculture/aquatic_animal_health/pacific_oyster_mortality_syndrome