Oyster industry close to pre-POMS production

The oyster industry still has some hurdles in front of it but there is hope of normalcy returning in 2020 after years of recovery from a Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) outbreak in Tasmania.

The industry has been recovering ever since the POMS outbreak in 2016 which affected oyster spat supplies for South Australian growers.

South Australian Oyster Growers Association deputy chairperson Gary Zippel said it had been a struggle for growers to fill leases again and sales continued to be lean.

However he said by mid winter the industry would start to move back to full strength.

"What I'm hoping is 2020 is the year when the industry finally gets back on its feet properly," he said.

The industry had been helped by the large amounts of spat produced by local hatcheries, including Sustainable Aquatic Industries at Louth Bay and Yumbah Hatchery at Point Boston.

Yumbah Hatchery chairperson Ben Cameron said the availability of spat was able to fulfill farmers' requirements more than a year ago, although the size available was sub-optimal.

"A year later and we have supplied all orders with the size and number that have been requested, on time or ahead of schedule," he said.

"I am very confident with the excellent survival of the spat on farm over the last spring/summer, that 2020 will be an excellent year for SA industry."

SAOGA Coffin Bay representative Steven Thomson of Gazander Oysters said the outlook was really positive but there should be a focus on the industry reclaiming its share of the food services marketplace.

"Over the last few years when we had limited production, restaurants weren't able to get a hold of our product and it had to be traded out for other product," he said.

"The next step is reestablishing ourselves to the consumer base."

Mr Thomson said growers in Coffin Bay were closer to getting back to full production than they had been in the past few years.