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 have 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 McGown said prices had been going up for oysters and would continue going into the summer and Christmas period.

Two new hatcheries have been set up to go along with existing ones at Kellidie Bay and Louth Bay.

One at Boston Bay done in partnership with SAM Abalone is already producing while another with Eyre Shellfish at Cowell will open later this month.

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

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

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

Ms McGown said a short term shortage will lead to long term security with the new hatcheries in place, which 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 of new spat coming soon to 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, expanding the shed tours to include taking people out to the leases and trying oysters straight from the water.

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