Through the voluntary efforts of Australian oyster growers, the industry addresses issues impacting on the profitability of the industry. These issues are many and varied and range from biosecurity, licencing, disease response, labour and workplace issues. The major policy issues identified by growers in 2010 as impacting on their business performance are:
Tenure security & ability to borrow capital against assets. No oyster grower in Australia has Torrens title over the water in which they farm. All water is leased to growers for a period the length of which varies from state to state. This impacts on the ability to borrow against asset and creates uncertainty.
Local development impacts & water quality management. Oyster farmers are reliant on co-ordinated management of water quality but have little power over it themselves. In areas of growing urbanisation or active agricultural use, growers can face uncertainty over future production.
Availability of labour & training. Rural areas can pose problems attracting and retaining skilled workers. Seasonality of oyster farming can also create issues in attracting unskilled workers.
The detection of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome in Botany Bay and Port Jackson estuaries in late 2010 has taken high priority along with other issues. While not posing a human health risk, broad scale oyster mortality was detected. Industry representatives have been working through risks, stock movement implications, and future proofing options.
More information can be found at http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries/aquaculture/info/poms.