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Department of Primary Industry offering 11 vacant oyster leases for tender

On the up: Veteran Hastings River oyster grower Paul Wilson says the industry is going ahead.

On the up: Veteran Hastings River oyster grower Paul Wilson says the industry is going ahead.

Eleven vacant oyster leases in the Hastings River covering some nine hectares are being offered for tender.

Vacant oyster leases, or areas selected by oyster farms as a new lease area, are offered twice a year via a public tender process.

Once granted, oyster leases attract annual fees relating to rent, research and a lease security bond, said a spokesperson for the Department of Primary Industry.

The tender details are confidential.

For 45-year veteran oyster grower Paul Wilson, there has never been a better time to be part of the industry.

"These leases have either been surrendered or not been used for some time so they are offered for lease through the tender process," he said.

"The last round was about six months ago and a few of the leases in the Maria River were taken up.

"The industry is in a really good place at the moment. The leases are a limited resource and with technology advances we are able to expand further.

"People are becoming smarter with their growing techniques and are now growing bigger oysters," he said.

"It is good to see the industry is moving ahead."

Mr Wilson, who works around the Limeburners Creek area, says the industry is becoming quite profitable because of increased awareness in seafood and the Sydney Rock Oyster.

He says the industry and product are very healthy.

"The Sydney Rock Oyster is now very healthy and the oyster is really spearheading the industry as it gains popularity," he said.

The Sydney Rock Oyster is now very healthy and the oyster is really spearheading the industry as it gains popularity.

Paul Wilson

"There is some talk about exporting to places including China, Japan and Taiwan but most of our stock is being taken up locally at (Australian) markets.

"People just want good, healthy seafood so they tend to look to us (the Sydney Rock Oyster) or the Pacific Oyster (which is grown in more southern, cooler areas)."

The oyster grower said he expected the vacant leases to be snapped up as the industry becomes more lucrative.

"But it is a big investment to run an oyster farm. It is not an industry that you can just walk into," he added.

The DPI spokesperson said a lease may be vacant for a range of reasons - usually called Priority Oyster Aquaculture Areas (POAA) as defined in the Primary Production and Rural Development SEPP 2019.

A listing of all POAA is available on the DPI website.

"Oyster leases vary in value depending on whether they are for catching oyster spat, ongrowing or finishing oysters for market, and are routinely transferred between oyster farmers," the spokesperson said.

"Alternatively, oyster farmers can apply for vacant oyster lease areas through the tender process.

"Oyster leases can be viewed online on the DPI spatial data portal or by viewing the NSW Oyster Industry Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy.

"The Sydney Rock Oyster increased in farm gate value in 2017/18 by 19%, making the oyster industry the most valuable seafood sector in NSW, worth $55m.

"The oyster industry is investing in their industry on the back of new technology, modern cultivation techniques and marketing initiatives.

"The industry plays a key role in protecting estuarine water quality and contributing significantly to the economies of coastal communities."

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