The NSW oyster industry is based predominantly on the cultivation of the Sydney Rock Oyster (Saccostrea glomerata), a species native to the NSW and southern Queensland coast. The industry is supplemented by a developing industry based on the cultivation of the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) which was introduced to Australia and the cultivation of the native Flat Oyster (Ostrea angasi).
There is oyster aquaculture area currently designated in 5 NSW estuaries spread along the entire length of the NSW coast from the Tweed River on the Queensland border to Wonboyn Lake adjacent to the Victorian border.
For a history of the NSW oyster industry and current management initiatives see the NSW Oyster Industry Sustainable Aquaculture Strategy.
The Pacific Oyster is an introduced species and is declared as a Class 2 Noxious Fish in all NSW waters other than in the waters of Port Stephens, under the Fisheries Management Act, 1994 (Schedule 6C). Due to the overwhelming numbers of wild Pacific Oysters present at Port Stephens, permission was granted for aquaculture permit holders to cultivate Pacific Oysters in the estuary in 1990.
Management of Pacific Oysters in NSW provided for by a risk-based management system specified in Regulation as Aquaculture Permit Conditions. These conditions are prescribed under Division 2A of the Fisheries Management (Aquaculture) Regulation 2012 and include a series of movement controls to prevent the inter-estuarine spread of this introduced oyster. For more information on the Pacific Oyster or associated movement controls, visit the Aquatic Pest Pacific Oyster page.
In addition, Management Plans have been initiated in two NSW estuaries deal with local infestations.
Following the impact of the Sydney Rock Oyster disease QX in the Georges and Hawkesbury rivers, triploid Pacific Oysters are now also cultured in those estuaries by approved aquaculture permit holders. The approval to allow culture of these functionally sterile oysters was granted following an environmental impact assessment and five year trial culture period. Following further application and environmental assessment, triploid Pacific Oysters are now approved for commercial cultivation in Clyde River and the Shoalhaven/Crookhaven estuaries.
Trial cultivation of triploid Pacific oysters is also underway in Wallis Lake (2009) and Wapengo Lake (2011) by approved aquaculture permit holders. Farmers have diversified to culture this additional species as a risk management initiative to counter potential impacts from QX and winter mortality diseases in Sydney Rock Oysters.