Already in recovery after the POMS outbreak, Tasmania’s oyster industry has an extra boost through an agreement that will grow its market access.
The Tasmanian government partnered with Oysters Tasmania and Tasmanian Seafood Industry Council on the $400,000 Tasmanian Shellfish Market Access Program (ShellMAP) over the next four years.
A further $400,000 was also committed for a real-time monitoring sensor network.
Oysters Tasmania chairman Dan Roden said the industry was in recovery mode and plans were already in place to return it to the $26 million business it was before POMS (Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome) through disease-resistant stock.
“We’re looking at the opportunity to grow the industry past pre-POMS levels. There’s a lot left in this industry, with respect to growth, and the disease-resistant breeding lines are a big part of that,” Mr Roden said.
“Food safety is critical to our industry. We have a great track record and are known both nationally and internationally for our safe seafood and our quality of seafood.
“The program is pivotal in maintaining the high standards which the world expects – and farmers want to deliver,” he said.
Primary Industries Minister Sarah Courtney announced the $800,000 funding with Mr Roden and ACA Aquaculture managing director Craig Lockwood.
“This [agreement] will support market access, but also support on-the-ground work, such as the sensor network,” Ms Courtney said.
“Oysters are important for tourism, but also for regional jobs and economies.”
Mr Lockwood said oysters were at the forefront of the aquaculture industry when it came to alerting producers there were issues within the environment.
The sensor network will enable oyster producers to make quicker decisions around water temperature, salinity and other inputs to ensure the high quality product the state is known for continues.
“It lets us know and understand what is really happening in the water at the time, but also aids [Oysters Tasmania] in being able to see what we’re actually seeing at that point to make better decisions, which gives us better access to the market,” Mr Lockwood said.
“There’s a lot of confidence still in the industry. We are seeing good results from the breeding program. We can see that recovery is actually happening.”
Marine resource management specialist and Australian Fisheries Management Authority commissioner Ian Cartwright will chair the ShellMAP Management Committee.
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