Oyster producers from Far South Coast estuaries were paid a surprise visit by NSW Farmers president Fiona Simson and CEO Matt Brand last Wednesday.
Locals raised issues in the oyster growing industry at a lunch at Pambula Fishing Club including development applications around estuaries, sustainable aquacultures, upgrades to the Merimbula sewage treatment plant, financial issues around oyster leases and product freight charges.
NSW Farmers Association Oyster Committee vice president Caroline Henry of Wonboyn said they have been hoping to meet with the NSW Farmers Federation for some time and a positive outcome for local oyster producers will follow if the concerns raised at last week’s meeting are followed through.
“It would boost confidence in the oyster production industry and hopefully encourage new farmers…new members always bring new ideas which could lead to different methods, better production and younger people viewing it as a professional industry worth pursuing,” Ms Henry said.
“At the moment we have about a third of the memberships across the state compared with previous numbers.
“One of the issues we raised was the difficulty in gaining loans from banks for leases…if loans were more attainable we could improve our businesses and in my case could allow a production increase of 3000 bags of oysters a year,” she said.
Bega Coast Oyster EMS Implementation officer and NSW Farmers Association Oyster committee member Sue McIntyre said the luncheon was beneficial for the local oyster producers and she is confident local issues were heard.
“They were very good at deciding which issues were ones they could take to the top and deal with and other issues which are to be directed to local representatives and council,” Ms McIntyre said.
“We are a small part of the [oyster producing] industry but are able to supply oysters through winter to Sydney markets and we have been recognized for the good quality of our oysters and very clean water.”
Over 2011 to 2012 the NSW Department of Primary Industries Aquaculture report noted the total dozens of Sydney Rock oysters produced by the Pambula estuary was 234,602 with a total value of $1,482,734.
Wonboyn produced 52,940 with a total of $373,957 and Merimbula produced 258,046 with a total of $1,621,374 for local producers.