Published on ABC News 7 February 2017 – Click here to view the original article.
Less than six months since setting up in South Australia, Cameron of Tasmania has produced its first commercially viable oysters.
The Tasmanian-based hatchery set up just out of Port Lincoln, with Yumbah Aquaculture, following the outbreak of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) in Tasmania.
The detection led to a ban on the movement of anything oyster related into South Australia, which is in place until the end of March.
General manager Ben Cameron said setting up in South Australia was something they had thought about for quite a while, even before POMS hit.
“As a company we had a long-standing business strategy that if we could not sell into South Australia, because of a biosecurity or trade barrier or some kind of unforeseen event, then we would move over here and start producing oysters,” he said.
“We have a very close relationship with the South Australian growers and so there was no way that we would ever consider leaving them high and dry.”
A majority of spat being used in South Australia was being sourced from Tasmania and so when the ban was put in place, it left growers wondering how they would deal with the shortfall.
“We were sending a majority of what we were producing in Tasmania over here to South Australia, so we had the lion’s share of the market before all of this happened,” Mr Cameron said.
“This was great for us, but it also meant that the hit to our company in Tasmania was obviously felt a lot more because of that heavy reliance of us on this market.”
The commercially viable spat that has now been produced is a product that is viable for customers, not only on the Eyre Peninsula, but also the Yorke Peninsula, to take onto their farms and produce a commercial outcome.
“So that is an oyster that generally is greater than two millimetres in size and it has got all the characteristics that are required for it to survive outside of the controlled hatchery environment, so that’s what we mean when I say commercially viable,” Mr Cameron said.
“It has nice shape and it is a nice hard oyster that can survive being tumbled around in the tide and spending those 40 degree days out of water on low tide.”
Mr Cameron said they had been able to start supplying SA growers almost straight away.
“We have been able to send out some stock in this past week so that was a milestone that we set out for the company, and the joint venture between Cameron and Yumbah was to try and have stock out by this growing season.
“As we have gone through we have had some good wins on the board and just an extraordinary effort from everybody involved and we have managed to bring that timeline forward.
“It’s nice to be able to have sold inside the 12 months from pretty much being down and out of South Australia industry to now back and raring to go.”
Then next step now for the joint venture between Cameron of Tasmania and Yumbah Aquaculture will be to set up a bigger facility.
Mr Cameron said with the quick success of producing the spat, he could see it growing even more.
“Now it comes down to putting the hand further in the pocket and investing further in Port Lincoln, and I think that is a very exciting opportunity for the Eyre Peninsula because we are bringing highly skilled and highly technical positions and long-term jobs to the region.”