Oyster trial outcome a purler

Alexander ScottPilbara News
Ocean Foods International oyster shucker Ray Kilpatrick shucks one of the delicacies at Emu Point (Albany). PHOTO: DANELLA BEVIS
Camera IconOcean Foods International oyster shucker Ray Kilpatrick shucks one of the delicacies at Emu Point (Albany). PHOTO: DANELLA BEVIS Credit: Danella Bevis/Danella Bevis

The fledgling North West oyster industry marked a significant milestone recently, after researchers successfully bred a black-lip rock oyster.

The industry received a boost last November when the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development received $570,000 as part of a Co-operative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia three-year project to develop the industry in WA and the Northern Territory.

There are currently two farms in the north-west — the Flying Foam Passage oyster farm is on the Burrup Peninsula while the other is off the Derby coast.

DPIRD used broodstock collected from Cone Bay in the Kimberley to breed the black-lip rock oyster in the department’s Hillarys marine shellfish hatchery. The black-lip rock oyster is a fast grower and is expected to perform well in northern tropical conditions.

The spat (larvae) will continue to be grown in the hatchery until they are relocated to one of the northern research trial sites off the Karratha and Derby coastlines in September.

Fisheries Minister Peter Tinley said the successful breeding of the oyster was an exciting first step in the production process to kickstart the tropical rock oyster industry in WA.

Member for Kimberley Josie Farrer said this was fantastic news for the project team.

“An opportunity like this, to potentially develop a whole new fishery to help diversify employment opportunities as well as encourage new market investment, is an exciting vision for the Kimberley,” she said.

Pilbara MLA Kevin Michel said the project had great potential to help the region’s economic re-covery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“WA is pushing the innovation envelope by combining the best technology available from around the world into our aquaculture hatchery breeding,” he said.

It is estimated that when the fishery is up and running, every 1000 tonnes of oysters produced will create 250 regional jobs.

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