POMS may cause An­tipodean oys­ter short­age

Fish Farmer - - News -

AUS­TRALIAN oys­ter farm­ers are braced for a pro­duc­tion short­age in the run-up to Christ­mas, with de­mand al­ready far out­strip­ping sup­ply in restau­rants and re­tail out­lets, ABC news re­ported.

Whole­salers say that prices have jumped 30 to 40 per cent since the start of the year and could con­tinue to rise into the fes­tive sea­son.

The out­break of Pa­cific Oys­ter Mor­tal­ity Syn­drome (POMS) in Tas­ma­nia in 2016 has meant that pro­duc­tion of baby Pa­cific oys­ters could not be sent to key grow­ing ar­eas of South Aus­tralia and parts of New South Wales.

POMS is not dan­ger­ous to hu­mans but it has dev­as­tated Tas­ma­nian oys­ter farm­ers who spe­cialise in pro­duc­ing oys­ter spat.

Oys­ters Aus­tralia pres­i­dent and Smoky Bay oys­ter farmer Bruce Zip­pel said he ex­pected it to be a dif­fi­cult pe­riod for farm­ers.

‘We are ex­pect­ing an oys­ter short­age, par­tic­u­larly through the rest of this year, which is al­ready start­ing to hit and also through next year,’ Zip­pel said.

‘I’d re­ally like to stress that we ask the pub­lic for pa­tience be­cause the in­dus­try will be back with a vengeance.

‘Dur­ing 2019, prob­a­bly dur­ing the win­ter, there will be a lot of oys­ters around at that point so please bear with us dur­ing this pe­riod of stor­age.’

Mark All­sop, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Aus­tralia’s Oys­ter Coast, rep­re­sents 45 New South Wales farm­ers and mar­kets and dis­trib­utes their prod­uct.

He said the sup­ply of oys­ters has dropped by about 30 per cent since the be­gin­ning of the year, while prices had started to rise by about the same.

‘De­mand started to out­strip sup­ply about six weeks ago. We have seen in­creased de­mand for rock oys­ters based on the re­duc­tion of sup­ply out of Tas­ma­nia and South Aus­tralia.’

Oys­ters are sell­ing for about $22 (£13) per dozen for smaller grades of Pa­cific and Sydney Rock oys­ters at the Sydney Fish Mar­ket.

‘Con­sumers in restau­rants would have been pay­ing $3-4, but they’re now pay­ing over $5 each.’

He thinks distrib­u­tors will keep prices where they are now but oys­ters may dis­ap­pear from some parts of the mar­ket.

‘Buy­ing oys­ters in su­per­mar­kets and all you can eat buf­fets will be a thing of the past.’

Above: Aus­tralian oys­ters

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