Oyster shortage and high prices loom for 2018

IN STOCK: Chris Hank shows some of the oysters still in stock at Pure Coffin Bay Oysters.
IN STOCK: Chris Hank shows some of the oysters still in stock at Pure Coffin Bay Oysters.

Oyster growers are asking patrons to be patient going into the summer and holiday period while the industry faces stock shortages in 2018.

Local oyster growers have been managing their stocks due to a lack of oyster spat from Tasmania because of an outbreak of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS).

Pure Coffin Bay Oysters owner Chris Hank said all growers had experienced a lack of spat which would mean higher prices all round.

“There will be a bit of a higher price so we can get through this period,” he said.

South Australian Oyster Growers Association executive officer Trudy McGowan said prices had been going up for oysters and that would continue going into the summer and Christmas period.

Two new hatcheries have been set up, alongside existing hatcheries at Kellidie Bay and Louth Bay, to help with spat production.

The hatchery at Boston Bay, set up in partnership with Yumbah Aquaculture, is already producing spat while another with Eyre Shellfish at Cowell will open later this month.

Ms McGowan said this would help with oyster production in the future but growers would still face a shortage throughout 2018 because oysters from spat to sale stage could take 12 to 18 months to develop.

She said growers would try to meet the demand for oysters during the holiday period.

“Growers are doing their very best to ensure they can meet that demand during Christmas,” she said.

Ms McGowan said a short term shortage would lead to long term security thanks to the new hatcheries and it also meant more employment.

“We can be more self sufficient and ensure it won’t happen again,” she said.

Mr Hank said there was optimism with new spat coming soon which would get oyster production back on track for 2019.

“Hopefully by the end of this year we will have the spat we need to get back into our normal routine,” he said.

Mr Hank said in the meantime Pure Coffin Bay Oysters was expanding its tourism side of the business by expanding the shed tours to include trips to the oyster leases so people could try oysters straight from the water.

He said Pure Coffin Bay Oysters would also ensure there was always stock available at its ‘Shellar Door’.