Far West Coast Oyster Industry
The far west coast region of Eyre Peninsula is widely acknowledged as a prime area for aquaculture development because of the pristine water quality, sheltered bays and exceptional water flows.
The oyster industry has emerged as one of the key growth industry’s on the far west coast. Initially established in 1985 in Denial Bay, 1988 in Smoky Bay and most recently in the year 2000 near St Peter’s Island, the industry has played a very important role in revitalising the social fabric of the communities on the far west coast with just over 100 direct jobs being created in Ceduna and Smoky Bay. There has also been a significant flow on effect to the local businesses in the community particularly, in steel fabrication, marine services, rural merchandise, fuel, freight and financial services.
The communities of Denial Bay and Smoky Bay are the main bases for the region’s local oyster industry. Although the industry has been established in the area for around 20 years, many of the lease sites are today, continuing to be constructed. In coming years when all the lease sites are fully developed nearly 300 hectares of intertidal water will be under production for oysters.
Smoky Bay and Ceduna account for half of South Australia’s total oyster production and at the local level the industry in the Ceduna, Smoky Bay region is estimated to be worth just over $6.4 million.
Unlike any other oyster growing area on Eyre Peninsula these oysters are cultivated in the fresh oceanic seas of the Great Australian Bight . The local marine environment does not have any fresh water input via river systems or fresh water run off and therefore, the oysters rely on the nutrient rich natural upwellings from the Great Australian Bight itself. These nutrients assist in providing the right conditions for the oysters to flourish. Over the years the oysters produced in this region have become recognized for their distinctive and unique ‘salty’ taste.
The local industry prides itself on being able to consistently produce the very best product for the marketplace. According to the Environment Protection Authority classification Environment Protection (Marine) Policy 1994, the waters of the far west coast are classified as Class 3-waters meeting schedule 1 criteria- ‘pristine waters’. Careful attention is therefore paid to the quality and integrity of the product with both the industry and Government supporting the South Australian Shellfish Quality Assurance Program, which monitors each of the bays on a monthly basis and meets the stringent United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) standards.