A hundred years ago, however, the industry looked very different.
Local fishermen were taking up to six million native Australian oysters (Ostrea angasi) from wild stock every year.
As the oyster beds receded, so did any chance for young native oyster larvae to take hold and they were all but wiped out from the region.
Replacing them came the exotic Pacific Oyster farmed in smaller, sustainable leases. Now, as farmed oysters come under threat of disease, the native angasi oyster is starting to make a comeback and may eventually safeguard the industry.
Jill Coates, President of the South Australia Oyster Growers Association (SAOGA), says that the threat is Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome, or POMS, which was first identified in New South Wales in 2010. A mortality rate of close to 90% means that, left unchecked, it has the potential to devastate any oyster industry it touches.
The disease, however, does not affect the native angasi.
“POMS has caused us to look at other options and in these times when environmentalists – for all the right reasons – aren't supportive of further exotic species being introduced, the angasi, being a native oyster, is the obvious choice,” says Coates.Jump to next article