Boost for spat nursery

First published in the Port Lincoln Times 29 January 2018. Click here to read the full article.


A new $750,000 state-of-the-art oyster nursery at Yumbah Hatchery at Point Boston will help supply the state’s oyster growers with a reliable source of spat.

The expansion last week received a $250,000 boost from the state government’s Regional Development Fund when Premier Jay Weatherill visited the hatchery.

It is expected to create 12 new full time jobs and Yumbah Hatchery director Ben Cameron said once it was up and running, the facility would be able to supply most of the state’s growers.

“The holding capacity (of the nursery) will be 75 to 100 per cent of annual consumption (of spat) for oyster growers in South Australia,” Mr Cameron said.

The nursery will allow oyster spat to be grown out to a larger size – four to five millimetres – before it is sold.

Yumbah Hatchery general manager Tom Hyde said the nursery would be operational this year.

“We’re hoping the project will be completed this winter, in the second half of the year,” Mr Hyde said.

“Larger spat should be available in the second half of the year,” Mr Hyde said.

The hatchery started about a year ago in response to an outbreak of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) in Tasmania in February 2016, which stopped spat supplies to South Australian growers, cutting supplies by about 80 per cent.

Until spat supplies build up again, many Eyre Peninsula oyster growers are paying fees for all but empty leases and they have asked the state government to consider some sort of relief.

Mr Weatherill said a proposal from the industry was under careful consideration.

“(We) understand the pressures they’re under,” Mr Weatherill said.

State opposition leader Steven Marshall has promised to reform the structure of aquaculture leases if elected at the March state election, to enable aquaculture lease holders to borrow against their leases, increasing the amount of financial capital available to the industry.

“Obviously the oyster industry is going to go through a very tough time over the next 12 to 18 months as it recovers from the recent POMS outbreak but we’re confident with the appropriate support and our positive reforms the industry will come out on the other side even stronger,” Mr Marshall said.