Oyster industry counts the cost

GALLERY: The flood's aftermath                GALLERY: Your flood photos: Feb 25

IT COULD take up to a fortnight before the extent of damage to the Hastings River’s oyster industry from weekend floods is known.

Dozens of barrels used as rafts for oyster farms washed up onto shorelines across the Port Macquarie district at the weekend as farmers scrambled to take their crops out of the water before the flood peak hit.

Around 25 oyster entities in the area could be affected by the flooding which was what local oyster expert Mark Bulley described as the biggest event he’s seen in 30 years.

Mr Bulley, the former state chair of the NSW Farmers’ Associations oyster sector, said farmers tried to prepare the best they could for the flooding .

“No one had any idea of the ferocity that it ended up being,” Mr Bulley said. “I thought there might have been a reasonable rise in the river by high tide on Sunday morning but we got it at 7am on Saturday and it broke the banks of the Hastings on the North Shore.

“What this does now is it halts any normal activities the industry does and we have a team of guys trying to retrieve any infrastructure that’s become attached, recover what they can and pick up debris.

“It’ll probably take the best part of a fortnight and the full cost impact wouldn’t be known for a couple of weeks.”

Mr Bulley said while some of the industry managed to get their oysters out of the rafts, some didn’t have time and there was bound to be stock losses with the area supplying 20 per cent of the state's juvenile seed stock.

He dismissed concerns that the barrels washed up on the shores of the Hastings were chemical drums and said the barrels were food grade.

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