The History of Oyster Farming in Australia

Nell, John A. (2001) The History of Oyster Farming in Australia. Marine Fisheries Review, 63(3), pp. 14-25.

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Aboriginal Australians consumed oysters before settlement by Europeans as shown by the large number of kitchen middens along Australia's coast. Flat oysters, Ostrea angasi, were consumed in southeastern Australia, whereas both flat and Sydney rock oysters, Saccostrea glomerata, are found in kitchen middens in southern New South Wales (NSW), but only Sydney rock oysters are found in northern NSW and southern Queensland. Oyster fisheries began with the exploitation of dredge beds, for the use of oyster shell for lime production and oyster meat for consumption. These natural oyster beds were nealy all exhausted by the late 1800's, and they have not recovered. Oyster farming, one of the oldest aquaculture industries in Australia, began as the oyster fisheries declined in the late 1800's. Early attempts at farming flat oysters in Tasmania, Victoria, and South Australia, which started in the 1880's, were abandoned in the 1890's. However, a thriving Sydney rock oyster industry developed from primitive beginnings in NSW in the 1870's. Sydney rock oysters are farmed in NSW, southern Queensland, and at Albany, Western Australia (WA). Pacific oysters, Crassostrea gigas, are produced in Tasmania, South Australia, and Port Stephens, NSW. FLant oysters currently are farmed only in NSW, and there is also some small-scale harvesting of tropical species, the coarl rock or milky oyster, S. cucullata, and th black-lip oyster, Striostrea mytiloides, in northern Queensland. Despite intra- and interstate rivalries, oyster farmers are gradually realizing that they are all part of one industry, and this is reflected by the establishment of the national Australian Shellfish Quality Assuarance Program and the transfer of farming technology between states. Australia's oyster harvests have remained relatively stable since Sydney rock oyster production peaked in the mid 1970's at 13 million dozen. By the end of the 1990's this had stabilized at around 8 million dozen, and Pacific oyster production reached a total of 6.5 million dozen from Tasmania, South Australia, and Port Stephens, a total of 14.5 million dozen oysters for the whole country. This small increase in production during a time of substantial human population growth shows a smaller per capita consumption and a declining use of oysters as a "side-dish."

Item Type: Article
Title: The History of Oyster Farming in Australia
Personal Creator/Author:
Nell, John A.
Refereed: Yes
Journal or Publication Title: Marine Fisheries Review
Volume: 63
Number: 3
Page Range: pp. 14-25
Date: 2001
ISSN: 0090-1830
Issuing Agency: United States National Marine Fisheries Service
Subjects: Aquaculture
Item ID: 9751
Depositing User: Patti M. Marraro
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2012 13:25
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2012 13:25

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