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Australian Oyster Industry Sustainable Practices

Each state manages and enforces the sustainability of its oyster industry as part of a grower's licence to operate. Oyster growing areas are mapped for planning purposes. Each state offers varying degrees of lease certainty and protection for growers as part of their licence. For example, NSW has produced the Oyster Industry Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy which identifies, secures and protects oyster growing areas under planning legislation. It also formalises industry's commitment to environmental sustainable practices and a duty of care for the environment in which the industry is located.

Minimum standards usually focus on:

  • lease markings

  • condition of lease infrastructure

  • disposal of shell and infrastructure waste

  • proportion and spacing of lease infrastructure to lease area ie carrying capacity

  • containing and/or disposing of introduced oyster species

  • hours of operation and machinery in use (near urban areas)

  • animal health and disease notification

Many growers are so aware of the positive relationship between growing oysters and the environment that they choose to exceed minimum standards. Voluntarily implementing Environmental Management Systems, Codes of Practice and other environmental accreditation is an example of Australian oyster grower’s commitment to managing their lease area.



Our coastal areas support oyster farms, commercial and recreational fishers, land based primary industries, and a quickly rising population of people who want to live, work and play at the water’s edge all along the coast.

Oyster farmers are often the first people to become aware of water quality problems and are often proactive environmentalists. They routinely test water quality in their harvest area as part of the Australian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program and they also notice when oysters are not thriving.

A stressed oyster is more likely to succumb to disease and a polluted estuary can mean that oyster harvest areas can be closed for long periods.

In 2003, the Healthy Rivers Commission (NSW) recognised the link between safeguarding coastal waters for oyster production and enabling the community to continue to enjoy a healthy environment.

There are excellent examples of communities, farmers, and governments cooperating to maintain and restore the health of coastal waters.

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