Oyster arrival marks next phase of pearler Pilbara project

Tom ZaunmayrPilbara News
VideoJuvenile oysters have arrived in Dampier from Albany. They will now head out to a trial site off the Dampier Archipelago where it is hoped a new aquaculture industry can emerge.

More than 120,000 juvenile oysters made the trip from Albany’s shellfish hatchery to Dampier coast this week where they will grow out to market size for the Pilbara Rock Oyster Research and Development project.

The juvenile oysters will bolster the 3000 wild juvenile oysters that were collected and placed in grow-out baskets at the trial site in March.

Maxima Pearling Company general manager Steven Gill said equipment was being trialled to determine the best set up for a commercial operation.

“The oysters will be split between the intertidal lines, which were installed in March, and the sub-tidal lines we installed in April,” he said.

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Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation acting chief executive Peter Jeffries said rangers would be checking lines and monitoring progress of the spat.

“We hope this project is going to lead to new employment and training opportunities for our people on country,” he said.

“We are also excited about the potential new tourism opportunity establishing a rock oyster industry could provide, and we hope that one day tourists will be able to come to the Pilbara, experience our land and culture, and taste locally grown oysters.”

City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long said a commercial oyster industry could be a game-changer for the region’s economy.

“Aquaculture is the world’s fastest-growing food production sector, and this project’s potential to create local jobs, attract prospective aquaculture investors, and build a growth industry not tied to the resources sector is exciting,” he said.

The oysters are expected to take 12 to 18 months to grow to market size.

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