Western Australian aquaculture research to kickstart the tropical rock oyster industry has moved into its next phase – testing the performance of a new rock oyster species in regional waters off the Pilbara coast.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) is leading research in WA, as part of a Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia three-year project to develop the tropical rock oyster industry in WA and the Northern Territory.
The new Black Lip Rock Oysters, successfully bred by DPIRD researchers at the Hillarys marine shellfish hatchery, this week travelled to their new homes.
The oyster spat has been moved to two trial sites in the Pilbara – West Lewis Island and Cossack – both managed by project industry partner Maxima.
The oysters will be monitored by DPIRD researchers to see how they grow into a ready to eat oyster and to test the farm sites and systems.
The research will guide the development of standard guidelines on the best rock oyster species to grow in northern Australia and the best way to farm them, to attract potential investment to expand the industry.
DPIRD continues to work closely with key partners Maxima, the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation, the Albany multispecies shellfish hatchery and gear suppliers Hexcyl Systems, SEAPA and Zapco Aquaculture.
As stated by Fisheries Minister Peter Tinley:
“WA aquaculture is essential to growing WA’s food industries and creating new jobs in WA as part of the McGowan Government’s WA Recovery Plan.
“Tropical rock oysters are set to become a point of difference and bring more diversity to the food basket as they are grown in new and remote wild places.
“Moving into the regional trial phase of the research is exciting and means we are one step closer to having Black Lip Rock Oysters that are ready to eat.
“Driving development of WA’s tropical rock oyster industry will boost economic development and is a great example of government and industry working together on aquaculture research and development.”
As stated by Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan:
“The tropical rock oyster project is fantastic for the Pilbara and Kimberley regions.
“It offers more opportunities for diversification of regional industry and job creation.
“Longer term, it is estimated that for every 1,000 tonnes of oysters produced, 250 jobs will be created in regional areas.”
As stated by Pilbara MLA Kevin Michel:
“It’s great to see sites off Karratha and Dampier chosen to help determine the development of a whole new industry.
“WA has some of the most pristine environments in the world to grow seafood and has a global reputation for fisheries management.
“Leveraging this will create local jobs and help develop new markets.”