High hopes for oyster project
Karratha may have an oyster industry if a $300,000 pilot project funded two-thirds by the Pilbara Development Commission with Kimberley pearling company Maxima Pearling and others proves to be a success.
Maxima, in a joint venture with traditional owners Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation, is able to repurpose its pearling lease after changes to State legislation.
The trial is to show whether growing oysters in the archipelago is feasible and that levels of the heavy metals found naturally in the environment are acceptable.
A joint venture with the traditional owners would be beneficial for not only employment and the community, but for the marketing of the oysters, too.
Dr Wayne O’Connor, an oyster expert and senior principal research scientist with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, said he was feeling positive about the development of an industry.
While he initially had concerns about large tidal movements and
cyclones, he was confident it was worthwhile researching oyster growing in the area and that such initial research into the growth and health of oysters would be relatively simple and inexpensive.
If the initial trials are successful, a full-scale development will be undertaken.
The experts considered that a $30 million oyster industry could be established in Karratha, employing, in the long-term, up to 300 people.