Coalition Investment in oyster industry breeding innovation

Senator the Hon. Anne Ruston, Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources

Mr Eric Hutchinson MP, Federal Member for Lyons 

The Coalition Government has today provided further assistance to the Australian oyster industry to combat the recent incursion of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS).

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston, and Eric Hutchinson MP, Liberal Member for Lyons, said the Australian Government funding would help boost opportunities for jobs and growth in the oyster industry by managing the effects of POMS into the future.

“The Coalition is proud to work in partnership with Oysters Australia to strengthen the long term future of our $90 million oyster industry, which directly employs around 2000 people, 300 of which are in Tasmania,” Senator Ruston said.

“The Coalition Government and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) are providing up to $984 455 to support Australian Seafood Industries (ASI) continue its selective breeding research program into the development of POMS resistant oysters.

“POMS is a significant disease and while we’re working with the industry to contain the spread, an effective long-term solution is to breed oysters that do not feel the effects of this disease.”

Minister Ruston said today’s assistance is on top of the $1.47 million provided to the Tasmanian Government in April to deliver critical measures to manage, contain and understand the POMS incursion.

Mr Hutchinson said the recent outbreak of POMS in Tasmania has had a major impact on the Tasmanian Pacific Oyster industry with an estimated the direct cost in excess of $12 million.

“The virus is affecting six oyster growing regions in south-eastern Tasmania, including Pitt Water, Pipe Clay Lagoon, Blackman Bay, Little Swanport, Dunalley Bay and Island Inlet as well as having been confirmed in a population of wild oysters in the Derwent estuary,” Mr Hutchinson said.

“Not only has the virus hit our local industry hard, it has had a broader national impact as Tasmanian hatcheries provide 90 per cent of the oyster seed Australia-wide.

“The industry has identified this breeding program as their number one priority in responding to POMS and that’s why the Turnbull Government is adding to the support we have already provided.

“The Government will also be working with the industry to focus on improving biosecurity arrangements for the industry across Australia to help manage future biosecurity outbreaks.”

Minister Ruston said work was already underway to assist growers and plan for the future.

“Work is well underway to combat the effects of POMS and to accelerate this breeding program to produce higher levels of resistant oysters, as is the development of a national aquatic animal disease response deed to manage biosecurity risks across all aquatic sectors,” Minister Ruston said.

“The FRDC has already invested $150,000 towards helping the Pacific oyster industry develop an approach to managing POMS into the future.

“Additionally, the Government has made support available for those impacted by the incursion, through assistance and advice measures like the Farm Household Allowance and Rural Financial Counselling Service.

“A number of growers are already being assisted, but I urge any other oyster farmers who are struggling, to look into the range of assistance available.”

The Coalition will continue to work side-by-side with growers, the broader Pacific oyster industry and the Tasmanian Government to manage the effects of this disease.

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